Tomb Raider (2018) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2018 film Tomb Raider.

Story

I haven’t played the games, but I assume there are some common elements from the stills and trailers I’ve seen. The story isn’t what I expected; I expected a puzzle archaeology movie and got an action movie.

All that being said, the story was pretty good. I wish they’d spent less time with the island action scenes and more with the tomb or puzzles.

My major issues is that it started action / intrigue and the tone switched to horror action once it reached the island. That would work for a book or TV show, but for a movie it felt disjointed.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I have to give credit to the actress because we learn almost nothing about Lara the entire movie other than she’s smart, gets back up, and is very curious. Any urge by the audience to care about the character is due to the charisma the actress brings to it.

The bad guy was perfectly cartoonish and the dad was okay. I liked the captain.

The CEO of of Croft Corp reminded me of Nina Sharp in Fringe played by Blair Brown.

Score: 1

Dialogue

Not super quippy, but very well paced. There’s a lot of mythology and they space it out really well. I also liked that the few puzzles that Lara solves are thought out in dialogue.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Everything in this movie was stunning. Filming was amazing, lighting spectacular, and action just wonderful.

The music was intense and well composed. There were a few times that it was a little early for the scene, which didn’t work for me.

Score: 0.5

Fun

I loved every moment of it, but I regret watching it with the kids. It was a little scarier and more violent than they should be watching. However, that’s on me.

My wife liked it, but found it a little exhausting.

Score: 1

Overall

A roller coaster from start to finish. The tone goes from action to horror, but the cinematography is spectacular. A fun action movie with lots of thrills.

Score: 4 Stars out of 5

Spider-Man: No Way Home – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Story

There’s a lot of good and a lot of bad in this one. The hopefulness of Spider-man is challenged, but shown to be worth protecting. Spider-man doesn’t kill his enemies was a theme in the older films, but he also didn’t save them. Saving them in this one helps affirm the joy and hopefulness of this Spider-man. I love the concept.

I hate that they had to, once again, kill a strong female character to move the plot and motivate the hero. It’s old, it was old a long time ago.

Another thing that’s old and really annoying is the forgetting spell. I hated the soft reset of Gamora in Avengers, and I hate it here. It makes everything from the previous movie feel cheap. It feels like they had to have it so that Strange wouldn’t go ask Peter for help in the next movie.

Score: 0.5

Characters

I absolutely loved seeing the two older Spider-men. It made my elder millennial heart happy to see them and see them work through some of their trauma and issues. Felt, oddly, like coming home.

I adored the character development and redemption for the villains. When Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock called Peter, “Dear Boy,” I cheered. I’d forgotten how absolutely brilliant William Defoe was as Norman Osborne.

M.J. and Ned are great characters and I really liked watching them work with Peter. Unfortunately, most of their development and interactions now don’t matter. That pisses me off.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

This was surprisingly heartfelt and perfectly quippy. Bringing back the Great Power speech was well done. I loved all the in-jokes and all the dialogue between the main trio.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

Absolutely stunning special effects, camera work, and fight scenes.

The music didn’t just elevate the scenes, it also punched up the nostalgia perfectly.

Score: 1

Fun

I’ve been a fan of the Spider-man movies for twenty-one years and this brought all the feels and brought me back to summer 2001 when I watched the first movie more times than I can count at a discount second run cinema.

The kids liked it mostly (the 2yo got bored during the talky bits) and the rest of the family geeked out with me.

I was ridiculously annoyed at the loss of character interaction and growth due to the memory loss spell.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Lots of hope, thrills, excitement, and nostalgia with a big heap of fun. This is a Spider-man film for those who love Spider-man films. It’s marred by some tiresome tropes and leaves us in a frustrating place for the next one, but overall it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars out of 5

Red Notice – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2021 film Red Notice.

Story

Action packed from start to finish with lots of twists and turns. The story itself is pretty straight forward action/heist. Some of the writing was silly and a lot of the plot points that are supposed to make us think the characters are smart, are ludicrous. It had me saying, “That’s not how that works,” more times than it should have.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The characters aren’t deep; they’re basically thin backstories for the three main actors to play into their strengths. It works mostly, but there is more chemistry between the Rock and Reynolds than the Rock and Godot.

The secondary characters are cardboard cutouts with the exception of Chris Diamantopoulos as Sotto Voce who hams it up beautifully.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

There are a few self aware and hilarious lines. Nothing super exciting, but the dialogue is fun.

Score: 1

Visuals and Music

The visuals are competent and I’m glad they didn’t add a colour filter on the whole thing, but there was a lack of cohesion in the different settings on a colour level. The actors were pretty though.

The music was completely forgettable, but that just means it did it’s job.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Every action movie needs the rest points where we start to care about the characters. This didn’t have any because we were expected to care about the actors. Unfortunately, those scenes are also about letting the audience rest and relate.

Both my the two and five year old got a little bored and the rest of us, although enjoying it, spent a lot more time picking it apart than normal.

Score: 1

Overall

What you see is exactly what you get with this movie. It’s action packed with lots of personality and more than its fair share of quips. The actors play exactly what you expect. This is a fun movie, but it’s not deep.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5

The Three Musketeers (2011) – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2011 film The Three Musketeers.

Story

The basic story is there with all it’s swash and buckle. There’s a few interesting twists and some fun clock-punk elements (like steampunk with with clockwork mechanisms instead of steam power.)

It’s a lot of talking, scheming, fighting, and quipping.

Score: 0.5

Characters

There’s a lot of variation that can be had with these characters. It worked extremely well with this group. I particularly like the changes in Milady, the King, and Queen.

The acting was purposefully and wonderfully over the top. Orlando Bloom channels a combination of Tim Curry and Alan Rickman, which I’d love to see more of.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue vassalates wildly from pure cheese to genius.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The movie is absolutely beautiful. The saturation, in my opinion, should have been higher, but other than that it was a beautiful film.

The music was great at what it did, occasionally feeling like a videogame, but it worked.

Score: 1

Fun

The kids weren’t big fans of anything but the action, but there was plenty of that to keep the five year old entertained. I thoroughly enjoyed the ridiculous action, sets, and history bending.

Score: 1

Overall

This clock-punk take on the Three Musketeers is action-packed and filled with fantastic action. It has all the excellent elements of action and over the top visuals that are the director’s standard.

Overall, it’s a lot of fun.

Final Score: 3.5 stars out of 5

Barbie: Spy Squad – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2016 film Barbie: Spy Squad.

Story

Definitely geared towards younger audiences, it’s a solid intro into the secret agent / spy genre. The twist was predictable for me, but I’ve seen a lot of these.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The main three characters are the usual super awesome Barbie and friends. They fit into the basic spy stereotypes very well. The techie computer guy felt really relatable and the over-the-top spy aunt was pretty funny.

The villain felt a little meh and the heel-face turn was abrupt and could have used more set up.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

The dialogue oscillates between cutesy and inane. There are a few funny jokes and the overall message is good.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The visuals are standard Barbie movie with lots of cute spy and action bonuses. It’s not great, but it’s not terrible.

The music is catchy… too catchy. They have 1 song and they use it A LOT!

Score: 0.5

Fun

I enjoyed this the first time I watched it. It has constantly been on of my daughters favourite movies since she could ask for it. She used to say she was going on missions with her spy girls and then do a bunch of flips.

Score: 1

Overall

One of the best Barbie movies available with a strong message and catchy music. It’s a great intro into spy and action movies without the gratuitous violence. It’s fun and one of my daughter’s favourite movies.

Score: 3 stars out of 5

Journey to the Center of the Earth and Journey 2: The Mysterious Island – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2008 movie Journey to the Center of the Earth and the 2012 movie Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.

Story

Journey 1

The movie adheres really closely to the original novel. I’m impressed that they were able to create a world where the book exists and then manage to follow almost exactly the same plot.

I’m impressed at the funeral scene where they spent the time to let the two male characters grieve and cry on camera. It’s not often you see men show emotions.

I like that they made the guide a woman and made her hyper competent, but I could have done without the awkward love story.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The movie doesn’t follow the story line of the book but that’s probably a good thing. The code breaking at the beginning and the diverse cast is awesome. I found the movie lagged a little as they traipsed around the island from one set piece to another.

The emotion in this one felt a little stilted compared to the first. The “pecs” talk was awkward until the berry part.

It’s a very linear movie without much surprise.

Score: 0.5

Characters

Journey 1

There are three characters in the movie. The dorky scientist that morphs into an action hero, the scared kid who goes on an adventure, and the beautiful and competent mountain guide with daddy issues. The movie spends very little time on any development for the characters, even forgetting the scientists awkwardness mid-movie in order to have him punching things and ripping off his sleeves. They are static but not offensive or flat.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The sullen kid became a sullen teen. The rest of the cast is entertaining if borderline annoying. The Rock infuses his character with enough charisma to make him likeable as does Michael Caine.

Vanessa Hudgens is great but has no real reason to fall for the charmless main hero. Luis Guzmán’s character is absolutely fantastic, funny and relatable.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Journey 1

The banter between the three characters ranges from dumb to entertaining. Thankfully there’s a lot more quips than awkward flirting.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The dialogue between the love interests is stilted and awkward, hopefully on purpose, same with the dialogue overall. Other than a few good lines it was pretty bad.

Score: 0

Visuals and Music

Journey 1

This movie was designed to be shown in 3D in the height of 3D stupidity. To the point where they added extra gags just for the effect. I hate that. The technology and special effects should always work for the story not the other way around. Despite that, the special effects were passable and the scenery was cool.

The music was utterly forgettable but not bad.

Score: 0.5

Journey 2

The special effects are enhanced and take much too much time from the meagre story. (I sound like a grumpy critic.) It’s pretty, but not great. Again, the 3D for 3D’s sake is tiresome.

The soundtrack is meh, nothing exciting. I enjoyed the songs.

Score: 0.5

Fun

Journey 1

I like the book, I liked the old movie from the 50’s, and I had fun with this one. There’s thrills and adventure throughout along with two very pretty leads. I also enjoyed how much my daughter got into the film and reacted to the young boy’s perils.

Score: 1

Journey 2

I’m not as big a fan of the books this was based on. I liked Treasure Island, hated Gulliver’s Travels, and was indifferent towards Mysterious Island. There were a lot of exciting moments but the fun was in the, rarer, character interactions.

Score: 0.5

Overall

Journey 1

This is a fun, easy, and exciting movie. Not the greatest and maybe a little forgettable but fun to watch.

Final Score: 3 Stars out of 5

Journey 2

There was too much time spent of visual gags and action set pieces when this sort of story is supposed to showcase the characters in between. The action often replaces character development instead of accelerating it.

Overall it was fun, but lacked substance.

Final Score: 2 Stars out of 5


S.M. Carrière and I discussed and reviewed Journey to the Center of the Earth from 1958 on the Night at the Round Table. Have a look here:

The Spy Next Door – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2010 movie The Spy Next Door.

Story

The story is cute. Sort of a Uncle Buck meets Jackie Chan. It was just as formulaic as you can expect from a “fighting guy takes care of kids” type of movie.

You don’t watch this for the story.

Score: 0

Characters

Nerdy boy, angsty teen, and cute little kid. They all did well and their was some surprising depth in the characters. Although I did get annoyed at how young the 4 year old acted and was frustrated by the old trope of the Hispanic character being the mole.

Score: 0.5

Dialogue

Overall it was stilted and awkward. Some of it made me cringe.

However Jackie Chan was both adorable and hilarious.

Score: 0.5

Visual and Music

The fighting was top notch, the rest was okay.

The music wasn’t great and sometimes jarring.

Score: 0.5

Fun

This movie had Jackie Chan signing a lullaby and using stunts to get kids ready for school. It had him beating up a future MacGyver. It had heart, humour, and great action.

Fun for everyone.

Score: 1

Overall

The movie isn’t great cinema but it is a lot of fun and if you’re looking for a cute action movie, or if your child is currently in a spy obsession, this a great choice.

Overall Score: 2.5 Stars

Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn – JenEric Movie Review

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Hello Cinephiles,

Today we’re talking about the 2020 movie Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn

This is supposed to be a sequel to the 2016 Suicide Squad. I reviewed that at the time and was extremely generous in my rating.

Story

The story was overly simple which was a good thing but also telegraphed what was going to happen. This wasn’t a movie that left me guessing, it told you early on what was going to happen and then those things happened.

As with any anti-hero story, there were a few morally awkward moments and a lot of humour.

Score: 0.5

Characters

The movie truly shines through its characters, all written and acted superbly. It was nice that they remembered that Harley is smart. I hate smart characters doing dumb things, but Harley did dumb things because she was hurt, broken, sad, and disturbed.

All that other characters were fantastic and left you feeling like they were well rounded (Although definitely in need of a hug and a paid vacation).

Score: 1

Dialogue

Some of the dialogue was brilliant, the narration was awesome, but not everything was great. All the actors had moments were their natural accents slipped, some of the turns of phrase felt like they were meant for someone else to say, and when Harley wasn’t there or narrating, the movie took a dive towards bad cop drama.

Score: 0.5

Visuals and Music

The action pieces, aesthetic, and music were fantabulous. The simplicity of the story led to those big action set pieces. I don’t think I’ve seen better action than that scene in the evidence locker. I also desperately want this soundtrack.

Score: 1

Fun

Other than a few moments were it started dragging (usually non-narrated story parts for the BOP) this was a thoroughly fun movie. Action, humour, drama, and great music.

Score: 1

Conclusion

This movie was fantastic and if you can handle brutal action, I highly recommend it. I definitely look forward to re-watching it.

Much better than Suicide Squad, which I’ll have to re-watch and re-review.

Final Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 7 of 7

In the past five minutes, I’d learned that my god wasn’t alone in the universe and that my nightmares were created by an evil version of myself.

I also learned that he didn’t fight fair, and how it feels when a bullet pierces your lung.

I then quickly learned what it felt like to get shot in your leg, hand, and shoulder. I reached out with my power tried to pull his soulfire from him. I was too weak.

Convinced this was how I died, I prepared to explode. I could at least take this jerk out with me.

Walking towards me, he smirked again. His sword touched my neck and he said, “You don’t have to die today. I could burn out Sol’s influence and give you a new life with a real god. Denebola is merciful and gives his emissaries gifts beyond your imagination.”

“Your god has more than one emissary?” I asked, coughing up blood.

“Millions!” he replied. I coughed and thought of the implications of having an army of me.

I shuddered at the thought and hoped Sol had some sort of trick to save me. “Phoenix!” I said into the com I’d been keeping open. I also hoped that my crew were listening.

The ship turned itself on and I heard the hum of the engines and suddenly we were in subspace.

Without a fantastic targeting computer, a prophet, or a Precog, you’re just as likely to appear inside a sun as you are to get to your destination. Space is vast and filled with a lot of nothing, but space drives are like tiny pieces of metal and suns are like giant magnets. The reason we don’t go much past our solar system isn’t a lack of power, it’s a lack of ability to calculate where to come out. Even a Precog can make a mistake. A short jump will land you dangerously close to a planet. A long one will almost always land you inside a star.

That’s exactly what happened to the Robinson. My crew lobbed it at the sun. Like throwing a marble down a funnel, we appeared in the middle.

There was a split second when we came out of subspace that the other man scowled and then we were completely engulfed in fire.

I thought I was going to die, but as the ship around me vaporised, I started to heal. All around me was wonderful warmth and love. I could see the beautiful colours of the sun that should have blinded and killed me. It was all wonderful. Of course I was naked again, but I still had the sword.

Unfortunately, so did the other guy. “You knew we could survive inside a sun?” he asked and his words were in my head; they felt slimy.

“Nope,” I replied.

His face fell and looked at me in wonder. It was the first time I saw on his face what I had seen with my power. He was dying. The power was eating him alive. “You are either a fool or you are more powerful than we thought possible.”

“As epic as sword fighting another prophet inside a sun sounds, I don’t like sword fighting naked.”

He laughed and he looked me in the eyes. It was like being hit by a small planet. Our minds locked and I saw a battle that was ancient, and made us seem pitifully small. I saw the stars themselves fighting and the destruction it caused. I saw Sol trying to save sentience while the others tried to enslave it. Then I saw flashes of what was going to happen, what had happened, and what was happening now. In essence, I saw everything and it gave me a headache.

We were no longer fighting as ourselves. We were conduits for the fight between Sol and Denebola.

When it was all over, I knew Sol had won. I hoped I’d helped somehow. The other prophet had the bad form to smirk as he turned back into stardust.

I have no idea how to explain it, but I felt pride from Sol. He was proud of me. The feeling was quickly replaced by a series of visions.

When the visions cleared, I was kneeling in the centre of my ship’s bridge, sword in hand, and still completely naked. Even with the serum, I was weak and needed a little time to recover.

I felt hands gently place a robe over my shoulders and looked up at Suzie. I imagined a million things to say and instead asked, “May I?”

She grabbed the scruff of my hair and pulled me into a kiss. When the kiss ended and the jeering from the rest of the crew stopped, I said, “We have funerals to prepare for and family to notify. How’s Travis?”

“I’m fine. Tougher than I look.” He looked pale and sick, but he had both legs and was conscious so the doc must have done something right.

“Great. We’ll start with Teddy’s parents on Venus.” I hadn’t been back since I was excommunicated and had caused a civil war. “While we’re there, we’ll have to save the Venusian royal family.” Everyone looked at me disbelieving. “Don’t worry, I have a plan.”

They all laughed. It was a wonderful sound and I appreciated it. Things were about to get a lot worse. I had seen the ships coming, each with a crew of nightmare creatures and prophets. Worst of all, their sheer numbers meant they wouldn’t fit in our solar system. We were outnumbered by so many I didn’t know what to call the the number.

Read More Stories


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

Ghost Ship Robinson – Chapter 6 of 7

Oh, how I hated that smile. It was smug, knowing, and superior. I hated it all the more because I had perfected the same one years ago. The man looked a lot like me, but older and evil. How does one look evil? His eyes were the colour of space with no stars, his smirked tilted in a way that said he knew he was better than everyone, and sides of his eyes didn’t crinkle when he smiled.

I didn’t believe in evil, even when the church I served tried to have me killed, twice. But that changed when I saw the man. I can feel the people around me. There’s warmth to all sentient souls. It’s a reflection of Sol himself. This man was colder than the heart of a black hole. Dispite all that, I could feel the powers of a prophet in him.

“Emissary of Sol. I’m here to kill you,” he repeated.

“I prefer Sun Speaker, Prophet, or just Hal thank you.”

“Your preferences make no difference. You will die today and everything in this system will bow to Denebola and The Pantheon.” I could hear both the truth and the capital letters in what he said. There was a lot to unpack there. First, was that Sol wasn’t alone as a god. Second, there was a pantheon of them. Most pressing was that this guy was like me. I’d met my predecessor before I had any connection to Sol. He was the first member of the church to try and kill me. But I’d never met someone like me.

Reaching out, my senses I felt his power; it was slimy like a vegetable left to it’s own devices for too long. He was still in perfect contact with his god even from this distance. Something I wasn’t. There was something else there though, he was powerful but like a wood fire, I could see he was wearing thin.

I had always assumed that Sol was the only god and finding out there were others threatened to send me into a philosophical spiral. I did what I do best and compartmentalised; I’d deal with the fact that my god wasn’t alone and might be weaker than others later.

From my study of my predecessors, they all died rather young. None survived past forty. In this line of work, our connection to Sol, literally made us burn out.

Our Doctor Janet’s miracle serum that let her stay young, had a very different effect on me. I wasn’t reverted to my early twenties, thank Sol, but instead it had allowed me to channel the power without killing myself.

“You busy yourself meddling in the affairs of others, when you should be ruling them.” He stretched out the vowels of ‘ruling’ and lifted his arms melodramatically. The nightmare creatures moved forwards as if pulled by strings attached to his hands.

He glowed a deep green light and smirked. I decided that if that was the way I looked in a fight, I wouldn’t want to fight me. The nightmares attacked and I sliced two of them down. Suzie would have gotten five.

One dove to bite me and I grabbed its head. For a moment I considered wrestling control of them from him. Being inside their heads didn’t seem all that much fun. Instead I pulled the sunlight out of its soul.

We are all made of the same elements, forged from stars over billions of years. Those elements are infused with a kind of spiritual energy. It’s what kept me calling Sol a god. Not his prophetic visions, but knowing that we were formed inside him and he had given us our souls.

Creating fire is fun, it scares people and makes them do what I want. Pulling the Soulfire from something isn’t fun. It was an act of destruction that left me feeling sick and horrified.

From the outside, all you’d have seen is the creature collapse, shrivel, and turn to dust.

“How? No one can channel that power without destroying themselves.” The man looked… excited? Amazed? Aroused? I wasn’t going to ask.

“You can give up now and head back home. Tell The Pantheon we’re good.” If Sol wasn’t part of this pantheon, maybe he was a rebel. No wonder he liked me.

“No! I’ll still kill you.” He pulled out a sword. It was the kind of sword villains carry in bad entertainment vids. Completely impractical in its size and spikiness.

Reaching into the belt of my robe, I pulled out the gun I had taken from the armory on my way up and shot him. The first hit should have killed him. I should have shot him in the heart. Instead, it went through him and the wound healed. I emptied the clip into him and he shrugged it off. It was my turn to be envious. I didn’t heal like that. I can heal by going into a sort of flaming trance, but it takes time.

Dropping the gun, I held the sword in both hands and prepared for his attack. The bastard pulled out a gun of his own and shot me.

“Copy-cat,” I said with a wheeze. I think I felt the bullet rattling around in my lungs.

Read Final Chapter


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