The merc with a mouth is back.  Deadpool 2 brings Marvel;s wise-cracking, r-rated, third wall-breaking anti-hero to the big screen -- though this time there's a lot of drama and angst mixed in as well.  How do the comedy and tragedy blend together?  Well...

The movie starts with Deadpool/Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds) facing a devastating loss: His girlfriend Vanessa (Morena Baccarin) is killed by thugs out to get Deadpool.  This leads Deadpool to try and kill himself (doesn't work, even with lots of explosives), become an X-Man ("in training") get locked up in a jail for mutants, and form his own super team (with early, disastrous results).  And then there's Deadpool's stated new purpose in life.
There's an angry teenager named Russell (Julian Dennison), a mutant calling himself Fire Fists who can create and throw fire.  For reasons we learn later, Cable (John Brolin)m a cyborg from the future, is on a mission to kill Russell, and Deadpool decides that he needs to save Russell to find meaning in his life.  We also meet some new allies -- notably Domino (Zazie Beetz), an amazingly lucky mutant -- familiar faces from the first movie, a surprise super villain; and there are plenty of killings, cursing, and pop culture commentary right up until the post-credits scenes.
So how does it all work?  Ryan Reynolds has the Deadpool banter down pat, making him easily recognizable in a costume that shows nothing of his face.  The mix of drama and comedy is a bit iffy, as we're supposed to accept the snarky jokes about everything with Deadpool's angst about having lost his love and being unable to join her in the next world.  John Brolin plays Cable as a completely humorless near-Terminator, and the rest of the folks in the movie are enjoyable, if not memorable.  There's still plenty of like in Deadpool 2 -- lots of laughs along the way -- but it could have been more consistent.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch



There are lots of games where players explore and expand into space.  Tiny Epic Galaxies from Gamelyn Games lets 2-5 players utilize dice, develop or use planets, and advance their empire to score the most victory points and win the game.

Players begin with a Galaxy Mat (which keeps track of their Empire level, ships, dice, energy and culture points, plus the victory points from their Empire level), two ships, four dice, one culture, two energy, and choose one of two Secret Mission cards.  There are a number of Planet cards equal to the number of players plus two (except in a five-player game; that has six Planets).
On each player's turn, they begin by rolling all available dice.  A player can reroll any one unactivated die for free; others can be rerolled for one energy each.  A player can also use the converter to set aside two unactivated dice to turn another unactivated die into any die facing of their choice.

Die facings have several effects.  Move a Ship lets a player move a ship either onto or around an available Planet card.  Landing on a planet lets the player use the planet's ability.  Going in orbit around a planet puts the ship on the colony track.  Ships on the colony track can be advanced with either Diplomacy or Economy die results, depending on what the planet requires.  When a ship reaches the end of the colony track, the player gets the planet (and is the only person who can use its ability) and gets its victory points.  A new Planet card then replaces the taken one.
Energy and Culture results get a player one Energy or Culture for each planet that produces them, one per ship on and in orbit around that planet.  Players can't have more than seven Energy or seven Culture.  And a Colony roll lets a player either advance their Empire level (usually getting more ships, dice, or victory points) or use an ability from a planet the player has colonized.

Other players can get involved as well.  After each die is resolved, other players can copy that die's action by spending one Culture.  When a player uses their last die and other players have chosen whether or not to copy the die result, the dice are all removed and the next player's turn begins.

When a player gets 21 victory points, every other player takes a final turn.  After that, everyone checks their Secret Mission card to see if they earned the victory points from the card.  Whoever has the most victory points wins.

There's a lot to like in Tiny Epic Galaxies.  While players can't combat each other, the competition for planets can get pretty intense.  There are enough ways to change the dice to give players choices, while still having a large element of luck.  The Secret Missions add a nice element of mystery, and being able to copy a die by spending Culture keeps players involved when it's not their turn.  There's a lot of strategy and fun to be found in exploring the Tiny Epic Galaxies.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch



Marvel has been teasing the presence of Thanos and the Infinity Stones for several movies now -- and in Avengers: Infinity War, they all make their presence in a very big way.  This movie introduces the Marvel Universe's biggest villain yet, along with virtually all of its superheroes.

The mad titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) has decided that he wants all six Infinity Stones in his golden gauntlet.  That will give him infinite power, which he plans to use to wipe out half of all life throughout the universe, with a snap of his fingers.  Sometimes he sends his servants, the Children of Thanos, to obtain them, while other times he gets involved directly.  And since Thanos is able to beat up the Hulk fairly easily, he is quite a menace.
The heroes aren't going to ignore this threat -- especially since two of the Infinity Stones are related to them: as part of the Eye of Agamotta wielded by Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and a key part of the Vision (Paul Bettany).  Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Doctor Strange, and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) wind up battling the Children of Thanos in New York, then joining up with some of the Guardians of the Galaxy in space to take on Thanos.  Thor (Chris Hemsworth) goes on a quest with the other Guardians to create a new weapon capable of killing Thanos.  And the Vision is brought to Wakanda to have his Infinity Stone surgically removed; he's also protected by numerous other heroes, including the Avengers led by Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman).
There's a lot going on with this movie (and there's a second part due out next year) and it manages to flow very well.  Even with all these characters, none of the heroes get short-changed when it comes to the storytelling or development.  Thanos is an almost sympathetic character (often calling other characters "my child") and the action scenes work extremely well.  I really enjoyed Avengers: Infinity War and look forward to seeing how its next part continues its cosmic cliffhanger.
Overall grade: A
Reviewed by James Lynch