Pacific Rim

Whatever I have to say to praise or criticize it, I have to admit that Guillermo del Toro’s Sino-American nerd-pleaser Pacific Rim is no Star Wars. Star Wars was just the biggest thing on the planet for months, whereas Pacific Rim never even cracked the #1 spot in the box-office rankings. [Yes, I’m still sour, whyever do you ask?]

And anyway, Star Wars’ gigantic success was due to a dozen unrepeatable factors, not the least of which was that there was jack-all else in theaters at the time – the #2 spot at the box office in 1977 went Smokey and the Bandit. A decent movie, I guess, and one which definitely had some cultural impact, but definitely not anything close to George Lucas’ genre-defying and genre-defining space opera.

But in many respects, Pacific Rim is cut from the same cloth as the third-most popular film of all time (numbers one and two should be obvious). Both are very personal and childlike pieces, almost autobiographical in their obvious inspiration from the writer-director’s childhood favorites from Japanese and American entertainment. They both have a simple and direct narrative arc, with a minimum of plot or character development, and an emphasis on relationships between the characters driving the action.

Read the full post »

Deus Ex: The Fall

A bit more of a conventional review today, folks…insofar as that term can be applied to several pages of discourse on a glorified expansion pack for a cult video game, prepared eleven months after anyone anywhere cared.

That said, let’s talk about that cult video game. Deus Ex, a 2000 RPG game, is the Gone With The Wind of video games. For ages it’s been frequently cited as one of the capital-letter Best Ever, and it features broad entertainment in perennial genres mixed with some seriously deep ruminations and excellent character development. For all that, though, it isn’t popular with modern audiences at all because of how mired it is in the bygone age when it was made.

Read the full post »

Man of Steel

Woah, mama. Man of Steel.

Since the whole point of this blog is being a year behind the times, I’m no stranger to repeating the sentiments of others, or being beaten to the punch. But even with that, I am pretty darn late to the party on this – this hasn’t only gotten detailed analyses from the usual nerd suspects, but from some of my fellow feet-draggers and whiners like Doug Walker and Matthew Corey, folks whose analysis usually comes with the full benefit of hindsight…more hindsight than li’l ol’ me, at any rate.

And so, I’m in the rare position of having the last word on the subject. And I’ll use the first words of that last word to tell you about a little comic book series called Tangent Comics.

Read the full post »

Year Late Reviews

annivbanner

Hey, I like it.

THUMBS UP: Having an outlet for my opinions has been more therapeutic than you can imagine

THUMBS DOWN: I wish a few more people would read those opinions, though.

 

Doctor Who: The Name of the Doctor

Those of you who keep up with my Doctor Who reviews are probably rolling your eyes at this point. “Yeah, we know that this guy has serious issues with the direction Steven Moffat is taking the series. We get it.” Well, that’s the thing. Though I only review the key episodes of the show, there were quite a few parts of the 2013 season I really enjoyed.

“The Rings of Akhaten” had some interesting character stuff in it as well as some nice higher sci-fi concepts, and “Nightmare in Silver” shows us that whatever issues I may have with it, Who is probably the closest modern equivalent we have to those groundbreaking ‘60s shows like Star Trek and The Twilight Zone – a show where respected sci-fi writers can just drop in to write episodes every now and again (John Scalzi, you listening? We know you’re a Whovian who has experience with writing dumb TV shows).

Read the full post »

Star Trek Into Darkness

I am a Star Trek fan.

I won’t say I’m a Trekkie, because I’ve recently discovered quite a few people of my generation and below don’t even know what Star Trek is. I’m not joking about this – take my good friend Daniel. He’s smart, likes video games, has friends, and is a pretty good representation of modern geek/nerd/plain ol’ pop culture. And when I first asked him what Star Trek was, he responded “Oh, yeah! The spaceship show that had George Takei on it, right?”

I’m just gonna let that phrase hang there. Daniel’s a great dude, but sometimes I just have to look at him and stand back, and…whatever. Point is, I’m a Trek fan – I know my Romulan Ale from my Saurian Brandy, and my multi-modal reflection sorting from my multi-spectral subspace engines. So this review of the latest Star Trek piece, Team Abrams’ no-one’s-sure-what-to-call-it-quel Star Trek Into Darkness, will be heavily grounded in my long experience with the franchise. Read the full post »

Metro: Last Light

Metro: Last Light is the sequel to the stellar indie game Metro 2033. 2k33 was a very intelligent game, with an excellent premise for an action-horror FPS: The game took place twenty years or so after a nuclear holocaust, where the survivors had managed to seal themselves inside the vast and labyrinthine Moscow Metro system. For a while, things were okay – subway stations turned into villages, tunnels into trade routes, and so on – but then hideous mutant creatures started appearing (I guess no post-nuclear game can escape the influence of the Fallout series, which is sorta sad because I always enjoy harder sci-fi in games). You control Artyom (You’ll be safe with “ar-CHOM”) an unassuming, fresh-faced kid who leaves his station for the first time, and goes on an expedition through both the Metro and the blasted, sterile landscape above as he finds a way to deal with the supernatural mutants once and for all.

Read the full post »

Iron Man 3

Twice in a row now with the baking sheets...

Let’s get real for a moment here, and say that the multi-billion-dollar juggernaut of the Marvel Cinematic Universe needs no introduction. I’ll just briefly run down the stuff you haven’t heard before: i.e. my opinions on the movies I’m too late to the party to cover.

- The Avengers is a flawed movie, but I can tell already that it’s a classic of our times – no matter how contrived all the fighting is.

- Thor is the worst film in the franchise at time of writing  - mostly for the long swaths of nothing going on that permeate most of the film.

- I don’t care about the Hulk enough to watch it.

- Captain America: The First Avenger was lots of fun, but it really dragged around the middle and lots of the plot threads were left hanging by the rushed and incongruous “freeze” ending.

Read the full post »

Oblivion

Oblivion is the sort of thing I really want to encourage. After the lukewarm reception of yet another reboot of a popular franchise (In this case, the pretty darn good 2010 film Tron: Legacy), the creative team behind it turned around and used the resulting mountain of moolah to finance a heady sci-fi original property that uses top-notch visual effects to explore deep themes of the self.

But why has this movie not made more of a splash? A year later, you’ll barely find anyone who even saw it the first time, much less remembers it. And I think the reason for this can be summed up in three simple words: Ambition exceeding ability.

Read the full post »

Doctor Who: The Bells of Saint John

Well, let’s plunge ourselves back into the unpredictable rip current of Doctor Who. Now, I bashed the previous episode, 2012 christmas special “The Snowmen”, because it had a dumb plot and an inconsistent tone. At the time, though, I was pretty happy with it. The point of the episode was to introduce a new companion, and it did so pretty well: We got to know the compassionate teacher and lady-out-of-time Clara Oswald. Though she seemed a little generic, I was looking forward to future episodes fleshing her out and establishing her as something other than another tiresome “Most important person in the universe, with a love-hate relationship with the Doctor” companion.

Well, here we are at the season premiere (I’m not going to split hairs with Brit vs. American terms, or with the wonky series division the BBC has – the run of episodes from now until “Time of the Doctor” is the 2013 season for me). Let’s see how things pan out, and whether promoted internet weird guy Stephen Moffat can work his customary magic to restore my faith and fandom in the show.

Read the full post »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.