Cinderella (2021) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Cinderella.

Story

The story is pretty standard. I liked the additional backstory on the evil step-mother and the addition of a dream for Ella.

That being said, it was very surface level and didn’t add much to the original.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters were fun, but not deep. It was a playful movie with witty banter. I liked that they joked about Pierce Brosnan’s singing.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The best way to describe the dialogue is mildly witty. It’s not bad, but it’s not great. There’s no double meanings or witty back and forths.

Score: 0.5

Music and Visuals

Nearly everything in the movie was anachronistic and it works to bring a sense of whimsy to the film. From the Baritone Sax to the impressive range of styles. It’s all in fun.

I truly appreciated the use of colour after so many colourless period films of late.

The music wasn’t Moulin Rouge level, but was a lot of fun. The duet dance to Ed Sheeran’s Perfect lived up to its name.

Score: 1

Fun

It had a good beat in both the music and the pacing. Little to no awkward moments and the actors could sing. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. We had the main song stuck in our heads for the rest of the night.

Score: 1

Overall

Cinderella is a story that’s been told so often that it’s no longer a story as much as an archetype. This movie doesn’t add anything original to the story, but instead re-mixes it with fun music. It’s fun and will have you tapping your foot.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 8


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 8

After a few hours of being in the conference room, I started to wish I’d taken up the Sun Speaker on his offer of food.

The door finally opened and Diamond was shoved through. She looked rough, like she’d been in a fight. Whatever had hit her had left a dark bruise over most of the left side of her face.

When the door closed, I asked, “What happened?”

She took a deep breath and sat on a chair. “They must have figured out our plan. We have to warn the others.” There was a breathiness to her speech, like she’d been punched in the throat. There was definitely something wrong.

“What plan?” I asked, using my best confused voice.

“The jig is up Samuel. They know what we’re going to do. It’s like they have someone on the inside.” She gave me a sidelong look before resting her head on the conference room table.

The thing about this plan was that I had no idea what came next. I suspected that neither did Diamond, but I couldn’t tell. The woman seemed to be part genius and part ridiculously lucky.

“Oh. The plan!” I said, trying to buy some time. Either Diamond was trying to send me a coded message or this wasn’t her. “Well… Nice job testing me. There is no one else.”

“Right. Of course. Now how about we get out of here?” Diamond said, standing and going to the door. She pulled a pass out of her sleeve and flashed it at the door. It had a little picture of the guard that had brought her to the room. “I nicked it off the guard when he shoved me.” There was a proud mischievousness to the look on her face. It looked right on her face, but not right based on my experience. It was a face she’d fake around others, not one she’d use with the crew. She was definitely trying to tell me something, or this wasn’t Diamond.

“Remember that we need to turn off their outside sensors and long range communications,” I said. It wasn’t part of the plan, but it sounded like it should be and even if this wasn’t Diamond it could be useful.

“I saw a server node when they brought me in. This way.”

I followed until we got to a door that indicated it was a server node. We went in with the help of the purloined pass and found a tiny room. The computers took all the wall space from ceiling to floor on all three sides that didn’t have the door. With both of us standing we would bump into each other as we worked. “You do the long range coms and I’ll do the sensors,” I said.

We worked in silence as we hacked our way into the system. While I worked diligently with my right hand, my left took out a hidden drive and plugged it in. I had just deactivated the sensors when Diamond said, “This is harder than I thought. I need more time.”

“We don’t have much, I’m almost done with the sensors,” I lied.

I looked at the bottom screen and transferred any files related to Project Replicator. The transfer finished and I saw another folder called Operation Black-Sun. Even though it was dated from almost two hundred years ago, I still took it. I placed the small drive back into the tiny hidden pocket in my hip. Onyx had made it and when I pressed the right way, it sealed so that the only way to know there was anything in it was an x-ray.

“I’m done,” Diamond said. “We should get out of here.”

“What about the plan?” I asked.

“Shove the plan into the vacuum of space, they have a Sun Speaker. We need to get out of here. No pay is worth this.” That’s when I knew it wasn’t the real Diamond.  

I needed to make sure whoever this was believed that I didn’t get what I wanted. “We need that prototype weapon. Our buyers aren’t going to take failure well.” I felt like I was getting pretty good at lying.

“Right. I looked at the floor plans while taking down the coms and I think the labs are this way.” Once again I followed her and when we got to an unmarked door she said, “The labs are in there. I just have to get this door open.” The pass didn’t work when she tried it, so she forced the door open. It was completely dark inside. She grunted and said, “I can’t keep this open for long. Get in there and unlock it from the inside.”

Walking into a dark room that I knew was a trap wasn’t fun, but I did it and when I did, the door closed behind me. Over the door coms I heard, “Thank you for telling us everything we needed.” It started out as Diamond’s voice but faded into that of the Sun Speaker.

“Wow, he does a great impersonation of me,” said a voice in the dark.

The lights turned on dramatically and I could see Diamond chained to the wall by her hands and feet. I was starting to miss the conference room. This one was all metal walls and uncomfortable rust coloured stains.

“I didn’t realize you were into this sort of thing,” I quipped, hoping her answer would tell me if this was another fake out.

“Yes, yes I am. But I usually prefer leather or silk. Metal is so unyielding.”

The lights went out again and then so did the hum, which I’d started to tune out, of the air support system.

Read Chapter 9 (September 2021)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Read Chapter 8 (August 2021)


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Vivo – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Vivo.

Story

The beginning was a little predictable in its “Pixar” style twist. The rest was a usual road trip buddy story. It was a fun story.

Score: 0.5

Characters

We don’t see a lot of Cuban or Cuban-American culture in animation. It was nice to see the art, music, and accents take centre stage. The characters were all motivated by relatable emotions.

The character of Vivo is sassy, funny, and filled with heart.

Score: 1

Dialogue

The running commentary by Vivo is both adorable and refreshingly funny. I appreciated the music, situational, word, and absurd humour.

I liked that they treated parts of the dialogue like motifs in music. They repeated or altered certain phrases to create more of an emotional impact and to pull the various parts of the movie together.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The movie was absolutely beautiful. It might not have been up to Pixar or Disney quality but they captured the Cuban art and colour style fantastically. There are a few times that the face and perspective in that art style didn’t translate well to a 3D animation, but over all, it was great.

The music was Broadway with the Lin-Manuel Miranda twist and a large dollop of Cuban influence. It’s a little reminiscent of his other work, but that doesn’t detract from how good it was.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie was colourful, never wallowed too much, and had multiple levels of humour. It was poignant and had a pretty good message, plus both kids loved it.

Score: 1

Overall

It takes a lot of elements that we’re familiar with in animated and musical movies and mixes them together with a Cuban-American influence making it feel fresh and vibrant. The visuals, music, comedy, and heart warming story make for a wonderful film.

Final Score: 4.5 stars out of 5

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 7


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 7

“Rainbow, please identify yourself.”

“This is Samuel 1701 and Ganis 1031. We are deserters who’ve had second thoughts.”

“Deserters? Normally we need to go find you, not the other way around.” The station’s com officer sounded pretty suspicious. That just showed he had some sense. Unfortunately for us.

“We managed to capture Diamond Stars and his crew. We’re willing to trade for a pardon,” I told the lie we’d agreed on, but I expected them to just shoot us out of the sky and save everyone trouble. I had my hand on the jump button in case. It might end us inside the sun, but I liked my chances better than with a missile.

The com was quiet for much too long and I thought maybe they were on to us. How did Diamond look so calm? That woman was amazing.

“Alright, dock at dock 3. Open the airlock with arms up and no weapons,” the voice said. Definitely military and not Black-Sun, or he’d have demanded we tie our hands behind our backs and lie on the floor.

As we waited for the airlock to open, I asked, “Do you really think this will work?”

“I’m hopeful, but I have four other plans just in case.”

The door opened to show two soldiers in full uniform with their side arms drawn. “Keep your hands where we can see them and walk slowly into the hall.”

We did what we were told and they cuffed us, almost gently, against the wall. Where had these guys learned to deal with prisoners? 

“Now where are the others?”

“What others?” asked Diamond.

“Diamond Stars and his crew?” the soldier asked with a smirk having expected it and didn’t bark back at the sass. Something was off and it was making me nervous.

“If we brought them right away you’d have killed us all and called it a good day. We stashed their bodies in cryo-pods.”

The soldier doesn’t seem surprised, but instead seems pleased. “Alright, we’ll take you to talk with General Maxime. He will decide what to do with you.” That was a good sign. There were no generals in Black-Sun. Only soldiers, commanders, and speakers. I always thought it was strange that the highest echelon of authority was called speakers, but since I never met any, I never got the chance to ask why.

“You’ll be in this room,” one of the soldiers said and pushed me into a small meeting room. The table in the middle was round and would seat four or five people. The walls were covered in whiteboards that had been meticulously cleaned or never used.

I was alone. It was a smart tactic. Get our stories separately and make sure we’re telling the truth.

I was feeling the walls to see if there were any back passages when a man walked in with a brown paper bag. He wore a lab coat over a grey shirt and black pants with bright red sneakers.

“Sorry. I didn’t realize this room was taken,” he said, not really looking at me. When he finally did and saw I was handcuffed he relaxed and added, “Oh you’re one of the prisoners. Mind if I have my lunch here?” He was handsome in a nondescript way.

It was a strange request, but I shrugged and replied, “Sure, unless you have something stinky.”

He laughed and said, “Naw. Just this tunafish, truffle, and banana sandwich with blue cheese.” He paused for a second and laughed at his own joke before adding, “Not big on jokes huh. Well, you were Black-Sun. Don’t worry, I just have some cheese, crackers, and an apple.” The food was fresh looking and impressive this far out in a secret base. How did they get fresh produce and dairy? Either they’d perfected the device we were here to steal or he was more important than he let on.

He ate mostly in silence. He was neat to an impressive level. He offered me a piece of cheese midway that I politely declined.

“So what are you in for?” he asked in a jovial tone.

“Bit of desertion,” I replied with a smirk I hoped looked more charming than dangerous.  

“Ouch. Black-Sun normally just kills you guys. Why do you think the military is going to protect you?”

“I have someone they want. I’m Samuel 1701, mostly go by Garnet.” I didn’t ask his identity. I’d already figured it out, I hoped.

“Where are my manners. I’m Echo.” His eyes searched mine for recognition. I must have faked ignorance well enough because he said, “Physicist and researcher.”

“Nice to finally meet you, Sun Speaker Echo, sir,” I said dropping the pretense.

He smiled and his eyes glowed black for a moment. “So you saw right through me. You’d make a good Sun Speaker.”

“Why the ruse?”

“You respond better to casual conversation and I needed to eat,” he chuckled. Standing up, he headed for the door. As he passed through, he turned and said, “Sun Speakers are able to see the past, present, and future. You can’t lie to us and you can’t trick us. The gods are on our side. We are the righteous and I’m glad you’ve found your way back to us.”

He left and I deflated. What he’d said was normally told in whispers after too many drinks. How could we possibly out-maneuver a god-powered psychic?

I paced and tried to calm my breathing. My heart ached if I thought about the plan and what might happen to poor Onyx.

It wasn’t until I thought of him that I was able to distract myself enough to process my conversation with the Sun Speaker. If he was all knowing, he’d have shot us out of the sky the moment he saw us. That meant he didn’t know everything, and that meant, maybe, we had a chance.

Read Chapter 8


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:


Want to learn more about what Sun Speakers are? Check out what the one in our solar system is up to.

Sun Speaker

In the distant future humanity has spread to the other planets in our solar system. These stories follow Hal (a prophet for a godlike entity that lives in the sun), and his friends, as they try to make the solar system a better place.

Hal The Sun Speaker

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

The Assassin

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to my Funeral

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Gladiators in SPACE!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Ghost Ship Robinson

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7

Mid-Year review of Éric’s 2021 New Year’s Resolutions

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

It’s a good thing that my wife reminded me I made these cause I had completely forgotten. The past sixish months have been a roller coaster of emotion and a study in lack of sleep.

Here are my resolutions for this year.

Let’s get right into this and see how I did.

Writing

1. Write a Monthly Serial Story (Succeeding)

I’m pretty proud of this year’s story and impressed with how easy it is to write. Check out Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist now.

2. Start and write half of SUPER MYSTERY BOOK PROJECT Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers. (Success)

Oh my. This went so much better than I could have hoped. We managed 100k words and Jen went a step further and wrote most of a short story collection to go with it. We submitted the book to Renaissance Press in May and are planning on writing the sequel in the Fall.

3. Write Another Hal Story (Failing)

I haven’t written another Sun Speaker universe story, unfortunately. However, I have written over 20,000 words in short stories for the short story collection that follows Assassins. That counts for something right?

JenEric Designs and Coffee

4. Ensure 5+ days of updates (Succeeding)

So far so good. What I’m most struggling with is the movie reviews. Not writing, but watching. We’re watching too much television and not enough movies.

Editing and Marketing

5. Start Editing Dinosaur Road Trip (Fail)

I’m going to call this now. I don’t have the motivation to do this. As much as I love the story, there are other stories to work on.

6. Keep Working on FADDS (Succeeding)

I’ve reworked tables into accessible columns and added a whole new power section to the rules. My playtesters are fantastic and things are going well.

Personal

7. Read 15 Books (Failing)

I was reading at night before bed, but since writing Assassins at that time worked so well, I’ve been doing it for Elizabeth 4 and short stories. That means I’ve barely finished 2 books this year. I doubt I’m making this.

8. Play more games with the kids (Succeeding)

We haven’t done enough board games, but that’s mostly because the 2 year old can’t follow. We bought a Nintendo Switch and both kids play Mario Kart and I’ve been playing Yoshi Craft World with Dragon. I’ve also been playing Link’s Awakening, which both kids love to watch.

9. Be More Patient (Unsure)

I still yell a little too much and I’m a little too stressed. I need to chill. I’m doing a little better but I still need to work on it.

10. Keep pressing my doctor to find out what those attacks were in November (Fail)

In November I had some serious health issues. I had massive cramping in my lower left abdomen, fever, weakness, nausea, and fatigue. It happened twice in November and both times faded away.

So I haven’t pressed on this. I probably won’t. It hasn’t happened again and when I started to feel something similar I made sure to de-stress and relax a little and it helped. I don’t know what happened, but at this point I’ll see if it happens again.


Results

Well it’s not great but it’s not bad either. I’ll call that roughly 50%. I’m not going to add anything to this since I already have my hands full trying to improve this score.

  • 1 Success
  • 4 Succeeding
  • 2 Fail
  • 2 Failing
  • 1 Unsure

What do you think? How are your resolutions going?

Éric

Luca – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Luca

Story

An interesting mix of coming of age and fish out of water (pun intended) stories. It had me wondering how they were going to resolve the plot with a happy ending. They managed a satisfying ending and I’m impressed with how heart warming it is.

Score: 1

Characters

The characters acted and reacted like they were in a stereotypical kids story. The parents didn’t listen, the kids didn’t know what they were doing, the stakes felt high, but in a well obviously nothing’s going to happen, kinda way.

There wasn’t one character I didn’t get annoyed with at some point for doing the most dramatic thing possible.

Although I felt for the trio, I didn’t really like them or feel they were in any kind of trouble.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Although played out both in fiction and in reality, the boisterous exaggerator who is covering for trauma, is still relevant and we all knew a kid like that when we were young. It’s done in such a believable way with the dialogue that it shows the writers have dealt with kids.

The rest of the dialogue ranges from silly to hilarious and I was quite impressed.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

This movie was typical Pixar beauty. The backgrounds, textures, and world were absolutely gorgeous.

The music was good accentuating and enhancing the story and made the kids want to dance.

I was also ridiculously impressed with the voices underwater being a little muffled. That was a nice touch.

Score: 1

Fun

The movie had some awkward angst that I found forced and made me lose interest, the relationship with the parents was uncomfortable to watch, and the entire thing with the uncle felt like a gross out joke gone to far.

That being said the kids were riveted, as were the other adults. It was exciting, cute, funny, and satisfying.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Pixar creates another wonderful story filled with beautiful animation. Despite a few forced moments and some awkward jokes it’s a fun movie with something for everyone. Warning, you might want a Vespa afterwards.

Final Score: 4 stars out of 5

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 6


Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 6

When I heard the orbital guns, I assumed that Black-Sun had found us. What I saw in the sky wasn’t Black-Sun, it was barely a ship. It looked like an old military bomber from a century ago.

“We have to get out of here, now!” I yelled. Diamond was already up and monitoring the guns. The rest were getting up groggily.

Diamond yelled over the guns, “Why? They’ll take that thing out soon.”

I ran to her and screamed over the noise, “It’s a class 5 bomber. It’s probably filled with PGBs.” Plasma-Gravity Bombs were an early form of explosive that combined massive blasts of plasma with gravity bombs. It would superheat and crush a target. They were discontinued and banned after it was discovered they could be used to collapse a moon. 

Diamond swore, shut off the guns, and rushed to the others. Diamond threw a bucket of water, at least I hoped it was water, on Flint. Onyx and Sphene saw the panic in our eyes and hurried to the ships.

We hadn’t had time to dock or transfer anything from the Revenge to the 16-19 Rainbow. So while the others ran to the Revenge, I ran to the Rainbow. We needed that ship for whatever ridiculous plan Diamond had.

The Revenge took off and I was a second behind it. That’s when the bomber hit the planet. At first it felt like I’d had my brain boiled and then the shockwave tossed my ship into space. 

I managed to recover in time to see three ships surrounding the Revenge. They weren’t Black-Sun; they all had the same logo as the Mountain’s ship. The scavenger must have been angrier than he’d let on when we took the Rainbow away from him.

I activated the stealth functions of the Rainbow and prepped automatic weapons. The hyper-plasma guns on it wouldn’t blow up a planet but they’d melt through any ship or shields known in the system.

“This is the Rainbow…” I hesitated, “Revenge. Yes, the Rainbow Revenge. Cease your firing, or I’ll destroy your ships.”

I switched to the gunner’s chair and aimed at the main ship. I would get one good shot and then I’d have to jump back into the pilot’s chair to get the ship out of the way of retaliatory fire. They were not designed to be operated by one person.

“Rainbow Revenge, we’re not here to attack, we’re here to offer aid.” The voice of the Mountain said over the coms.

“If you are, move away from the Revenge, shut down your guns, and lower your shields.”

“We can’t do that,” the Mountain said smugly. “What if the people who threw the bomber are still around?”

A quick scan of the Mountain’s ships showed that none of them could tow a bomber. I moved to my engineering seat and scanned the area for another ship. I almost didn’t see it it was so well hidden. Not with stealth tech like the Rainbows, but by being painted pitch black and running on low power.

The ship was military, but retrofitted with bigger weapons. I opened an encrypted link to the Revenge and asked, “Do you know anyone who flies under the symbol of Blackbird?”

I was surprised when Onyx replied, “That would be Captain Blackbird. Man’s had it out for Diamond since his daughter ran away with her. He’s a slaver and a jackass.”

It’s all I needed to hear. I returned to the gunner’s chair and aimed at the ship’s cargo hold. The bomber didn’t make as large an explosion as I’d expected; seeing as I expected to die, that was a good thing. If it didn’t explode with a full contingent of bombs, they might be on the Blackbird ship. It was a hunch but Black-Sun training told me to always trust intuition.

I fired at the Blackbird ship and it exploded for a few seconds before it imploded on itself, leaving nothing but a dense ball of metal the size of my fist. 

As I moved my ship to stay hidden, the Mountain radioed, “We’re backing down and moving away.”

A few gate jumps later, inside the atmosphere of a gas giant with the Rainbow Revenge docked to the Revenge, I was standing with the rest of the crew looking at the plans for one of the best defended bases I’d ever seen.

“This is a research station?” I asked incredulously.

“High military and Black-Sun. According to the government it doesn’t exist.” Diamond smirked as she looked at the plans.

“How are we going to get into there?” I asked.

“More importantly, how are we going to get back out?” asked Sphene. Her fear made her look younger than she already did.

“Ah, the lot of you have no faith,” Diamond walked around the table and then dropped a pair of handcuffs on top of the map.

“We’re going to turn ourselves in.”

“Why would we salvage a ship to go in all stealthy if we were just going to turn ourselves in?” Flint sounded amused more than annoyed.

“Garnet and I are going to be turning you three in, in exchange for a pardon.”

The group erupted into arguments. When they’d yelled themselves out, Onyx asked, “But why would they care about us?” 

“We won’t be turning in an old pilot, a doctor, and a military school drop out. We’ll be turning in the notorious Diamond Stars and his proteges.

Taking the holo-emitter off her belt, she gave it to Flint, who gave a toothy grin and said, “This is a terrible, dangerous, and ridiculous plan. I love it!”

Read Chapter 7


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories:

Wish Dragon – JenEric Movie Review

How This WorksRead Other Reviews

Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Wish Dragon.

Story

An interesting re-imagining of the wishing trope. The main character is adorable and actually as innocent as he seems. The dragon is both funny and has an interesting backstory.

The movie does get bogged down by forced awkwardness and ridiculous drama. The story is at it’s best when it’s exploring family and community and at it’s worst when it veers to close to romance.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main character is adorable and only does stupid stuff because he’s very trusting of the magical dragon.The dragon is over the top and completely out of his depth. The friend is the definition of dutiful and conflicted about it.

The goon villains are cute and scary while the main villain was a nice surpise.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Clever and funny, but not extremely memorable, the dialogue serves its purpose. There are a few good lines, especially the dialogue between the main characters.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie looks very similar to what other top studios are doing, character design looks pulled from Pearl Studios or Blue Sky Studios. There are moments of pure beauty, however.

The music is lovely and really accentuates the story.

Score: 1

Fun

Overall, the movie is a lot of fun. The kids loved it and other than that annoying middle part, it was a joy to watch. I was excited to have a movie all about friends and felt a little betrayed when they played with the possibility of the characters becoming love interests.

Score: 1

Overall

A wonderful addition to the animated “genie” genre. It is a lot of fun, but sacrifices some depth for awkward humour and a few too many chase scenes. In the end it’s pretty, has a great moral and is fun to watch.

Final Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 5

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 5

“You’re a fool, you’re all fools, and I’m a fool for listening to any of you!” Flint yelled.

It would have been more effective if the old man didn’t have a massive smile on his face or if he wasn’t piss drunk. I’d learnt his name once we were at the base.

Calling it a base was generous. It was a moon with an atmosphere, but no native life other than bugs and plants. The actual base was more of a campsite with four anti-orbital guns.

There was clean running water, tents, a stockpile of food, guns, money, medical supplies, and anything else we could need. 

As we landed the ships and we all met in the middle of the site, the old man walked over to me, stuck his hand out and said, “Sorry I doubted you, boy. Name’s Flint.”

The rest of the evening, if you can call it that, was cooking, eating, and laughing. It felt like being part of a family, or at least what I imagined being part of a family would be like. I didn’t remember much before I was inducted into Black-Sun at the age of four.

I was sitting on an uncomfortable chair near a large fire, drinking a beer, watching as Flint and Sphene tried to sing an old ballad I didn’t recognize. 

“You know, he has a lovely singing voice when he’s not drunk,” Onyx said. He was drinking orange juice.

“He must be really drunk. What about her? Is she old enough to drink?” I asked.

“She’s really that bad and sixteen, which is old enough to drink by law, but she’s not drinking.”

“Neither are you,” I pointed out. The firelight danced over his features, each flicker changing the way his face looked, but never marring it’s perfect features. 

“I used to. A lot. It’s the reason I’m here and not at some hospital.” When I didn’t say anything he added, “That was a little heavy. Sorry. I didn’t mean to bring you down.”

“No. No. It’s okay. I’d like to know more about you.”

“There’s not much to tell. Spent most of my life trying to be a doctor and then I made the mistake of thinking I was a god. Now I’m doing my best to be a good person.” We both laughed at this. “I mean Diamond and the gang have never robbed anyone who couldn’t afford to lose it.”

“And your sister?”

“She was the wild one. Parents sent her to military school at twelve. She was sent back three years later with a dishonorable discharge, combat skills, and a lot of rage. Our parents told her to follow their rules or get out. She got out.”

I looked over at the young girl who was singing off-key with the drunken old man and asked, “Did she come to live with you?”

“No. I wasn’t in any state. She ran off and joined a bunch of thieves. Diamond has been training her in meditation, combat, and thieving; while Flint has been training her in weapons. She found a home when I had been thrown out of my job, house, and life. Just when I had given up, she came into the bar where I was and threatened to beat the shit out of me. Ten years younger and she was the older sibling.” He gave a little laugh.

“Sounds like she really cares.”

“She does. They all do. We’re not just a group of thieves, we’re a family.” He looked at me somberly over his orange juice.

“Is this where you tell me that I’d better not do anything to mess this up?” I said, half joking, but also half expecting a macho-speech.

His eyes looked sad and the crinkles around them became more apparent. “No,” he said and shook his head. He leaned forward towards me, moving towards my mouth for a kiss. I could smell the orange and suddenly felt my whole body tingle in anticipation.

I pulled away before the kiss landed and said, “I’m not who you think I am.”

Looking disappointed but not angry, he asked, “You’re not a brilliant mechanic hiding from his past on a backwater world?”

“Well, yes… But—” 

“So you’re not a handsome military deserter who has been trying really hard not to make me feel stupid for offering to protect them?” he interrupted.

“Does everyone know? Is it that obvious?” I asked, worried.

“Yeah, anyone with eyes can tell you’re handsome.”

I had spent my entire life training for the Great Battle Against Evil. I had been told that I was going to save all of humanity and our gods. I had been awarded medals for valour. And in all my years I’d never been complimented so directly. I blushed and said, “Thank you. I meant the other part.”

“I know what you meant and no, it’s not that obvious. I’m a doctor and I did thorough scans of your body when we took you aboard. You have military upgrades. Also I was semi-conscious for parts of your fight with the Specter.”

“Ah. So did you want to know more?”

“You know my darkest shame. Why not tell me yours?”

And that’s what I did. We talked about my upbringing in Black-Sun and what was expected of me. The training, my service, and all my shameful career. At some point I’d found myself lying on the ground with my head on his knee. He played with my short hair, sending shivers up and down my body. It was soothing, I was surrounded by the smell of campfire, and even though I was vulnerable, I wasn’t worried.

At some point I must have fallen asleep. I awoke to the roar of the anti-orbital guns firing at something.

Read Chapter 6


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Diamond Stars and the Galactic Heist – Chapter 4

Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12


Chapter 4

“Brave coming back to your ship after so long.” The Specter’s monotone was either bored or appreciative.

“I can honestly say it wasn’t by choice. I was kidnapped by this crew and forced to work with them.” Sometimes telling the truth is a great way to throw people off. In this case I was stalling trying to get to the magnetic spanner, a fancy little wrench that was designed to return to the owner if it fell off into space.

“According to my psych profile for you, that’s not really surprising. I was never expecting to find you. You probably set up shop as a mechanic in a backwater world. Maybe even convinced yourself you liked it.”

I sighed loudly and dramatically. “You’ve got me. I actually enjoy not being yelled at by commanders and I especially enjoy not being ordered to kill civilians.”

“There is only the God and the Cause!” he replied.

I spit at his feet and replied, “No God of mine.” I found the spanner and tossed it at the Specter. As expected, he activated his phase and the wrench went right through him. With my hand hidden behind my back, I pulled it back just in time. The Phasing tech drained a lot of power; combined with the fact that he couldn’t hit me if it was on, he turned it off.

My timing had been perfect and I heard a small gurgle as his body tried to understand how a foot long piece of metal was inside it. He fell to the ground right after the spanner burst out of his chest like an alien in a bad movie. 

I cleaned the room and spaced the body, keeping the extra stun grenades. His sidearm was keyed to his genetics and would explode if I tried it.

The next thing I did was check on Onyx. The ship’s diagnostics were years ahead of anything else and it told me he had a major concussion. With a few flips of switches I was able to fix the damage. He’d have a hell of a headache, but no other side effects. I watched him sleep a little, the contours of his cheekbones and perfect skin. He was beautiful. Of course the moment I thought it, he released the most ridiculous snore, something between an old gas engine and a wild animal.

Placing Diamond and Sphene on the other bunks, I had time to move the Mountain, whose girth, if not his height, lived up to his name, and his crew back onto their ship before everyone woke up. The stun grenades have a massive range and if you don’t have shielding, you’re going to be knocked out. 

The old man, who I still didn’t know his name, came over the coms sounding groggy, “You all alive down there?”

“Hey, it’s Garnet. Onyx took a pretty hard blow to the head, but everyone else was just knocked out.”

“Well well, good job new guy.” The man sounded impressed but didn’t offer his name. “Is the ship working?”

“Yes. All good to go.”

“Great, then follow me and let the princesses dream.” He undocked and started out of the sector. I ran to the pilot’s chair and followed Diamond’s ship. From the outside, I could see it’s name on the hull, Revenge.

“Uh… Revenge. Where are we going?” We couldn’t just fly the Rainbow through any commercial gate and without a psychic, there was no way I could get her to jump safely. 

“Just follow me. Diamond’s got a trick up their sleeve.”

I watched as the Revenge piloted right into a large asteroid and disappeared. “A hollow emitter masking a gate? How much money does Diamond have?” I said to myself.

“Very little, but I do have a map to all the hidden gates in the system,” Diamond said from behind me.

“But… How?” I asked as we came out of the moon of Tryo. I activated the cloak on the ship and continued to follow the Revenge.

“Honestly, I don’t know. The gates are hundreds of years old. A secret lost to all but a few Diamonds.”

The ship shook and Diamond sat in the engineer chair. I checked the sensors as she worked the automatic repair drones. “Looks like the Specter had a partner. There’s a 2-12 Aurora following us.” I swore.

“What’s that? I’ve never heard of it.” Diamond sounded worried.

“Spector attack ship. Three pilots almost as fast as a Rainbow and twice as well armed.” I checked that our cloak was on; it was and it did nothing as we got hit by a second barrage.

“Revenge, are we close?” Diamond asked.

“Two seconds.”

I mentally counted to two and spun the ship around. I watched as the dark blur that was the Aurora was attacked by four asteroid mounted guns.

Not wanting to take any chances, I joined in with the Rainbow’s weapons. The other ship exploded in a dramatic display.

“Hidden weapons? Are those ancient too?” I asked.

Laughing, Diamond replied, “No, I added those. You never know who’s going to follow.” She paused and asked, “Anything we can salvage from that, you think?”

“Not unless you want to blow up or wait around for more.” I fired at all the pieces bigger than my head. “When it comes to Black-Sun there’s no such thing as overkill.”

“You’d know as well as I could, Engineer First Class.” She winked at me and said, “You locked down the ship, but didn’t secure the database. Nothing there really but the crew manifest.”

“How long have you known?” I asked.

She shook her head. “I suspected when you first got on board, but wasn’t sure until I saw how comfortable you were in that chair.”

“What now?” I asked. The penalty for harbouring a Black-Sun deserter was death, of you, your family, and anyone dumb enough to call you friend.

“Us deserters need to stick together.” She smirked and added, “Now let’s get to the base and plan a Heist.”

Read Chapter 5


While you wait for the next chapter, check out the previous serial stories: