X-Men: Days of Future Past

FUTURE
In the last century, movies have become universal standards in every aspect of our culture. One of the most interesting examples of this, though, is style.

Costuming and styling in film is a criminally underappreciated art. Almost every single big, culturally important film takes place in a world different from our own. I don’t necessarily mean space or the past or anything, but a world where things are just different enough to allow the main characters to be the way they are, and for the story to do the things it does. And costuming is an essential part of that – while our characters are doing important story things, their dress allows you to tell the story of who they are and where they come from without pausing for a minute or even interrupting the action at all.

I say this because the costuming of X-Men: Days of Future Past is not some of the best there is in recent memory, but it’s also very close to my heart. You see, the young Prof. Charles Xavier (probably my single favorite comic-book superhero), who is probably the most main of the movie’s four or five main characters, spends the clear majority of this movie looking eerily similar to me.

(more…)

Advertisements

Wolfenstein: The New Order

Ah, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. In a vacuum, it would look pretty normal as 20th century political movements went. To a nation ravaged by war, it would make sense to adopt a fiercely xenophobic and expansionist attitude, to reclaim the land that once had been theirs in the mists of history (That’s where “Third Reich” comes from – the first was Rome, and the second was the less powerful and vestigial Holy Roman Empire largely consolidated in Crusade-era Germany). And given the similar outlook Mussolini and Franco had had at the time, it’s easy to see why the two would join forces with the Germans, and why the initial passive ideal of lebensraum (living space) would largely be forgotten as the ideological pressure built up around the “Rome-Berlin Axis”.

But if there’s anything that shouldn’t be considered in a vacuum it’s history, even history that’s so been so exaggerated and mythologized by Euro-American culture. The frothing sea of Nazism that spilled over the sides of Germany into Belgium and Poland like the head of a stein of beer was an entirely different sort of beast to that relatively normal political movement. With America ravaged by depression and Europe by a cat’s cradle of treaties and agreements left over from the end of the last war, the Nazis were something to unite everyone in hatred, and were probably among the last things that could ever be treated that way in an increasingly fragmented and free-speaking world.

(more…)

On Recent Deaths

death I have way more pride than is good for me sometimes. For instance, I’ve always stuck to my guns pretty rigidly when it comes to my one year gap and my lack of any content besides SF/F reviews of stuff I care about, for no good reason other than the title would sort of ring hollow for me otherwise. But within a month, three luminaries in their fields have died: legendary wit Terry Pratchett, legendary actor Leonard Nimoy, and also Sam Simon, the unknown driving force behind one of the most legendary works of our time. And it’s clear that The Grim Reaper cares about pride about as much as he does anything else.

(more…)

Sherlock: The Sign of Three

So, the new Sherlock TV show. Not to be confused with the new Sherlock Holmes TV show, Elementary, which actually isn’t that bad if you sit down and watch it. Its opening sequence is a dozen times better, for a start – am I really the only one who completely despises that loud, tuneless rock track that Sherlock has?

But yeah, Sherlock, the one with Martin Freeman of Hitchhiker’s Guide, and that very British, very popular, very tall institution that I’ll just call “Big Ben” from here on out. It’s hard for me to state a single opinion on Sherlock. On one hand, it has a blisteringly high entertainment value, with top-notch acting, stylish presentation, witty and clever interplay between consistent and well-developed characters, excellent adaptation of the classic stories I’ve read many times…

On the other hand, I can’t bring myself to call myself a Sherlock fan, because that invariably associates me with Big Ben’s legions of squealing ladies (and quite a few cheering men; I am nothing if not tolerant in my vaguely hypocritical condescension). The fans have been responsible for most of the worst moments in the show, most of which have been in the most recent, third season – and yet that also had most of my favorite moments in the series too, so I’m not sure what to think.

(more…)

Frozen

Now, I don’t like to think of myself as very conceited. So I can’t really say that these reviews are very important to anyone but me – heck, I consider two dozen views a pretty big amount any time I post one of these things. But reviewing Frozen a year later? I would be the first to admit that it’s now pointless.

Frozen is what I like to call a Classic Of Our Times. As I was watching it in the theater, my negative Nancy tendencies pointed me to all sorts of story problems, inconsistent characters, unfortunate implications, and bad musical decisions…but all that time, I was also sitting there thinking what an amazing movie it was. That’s how you can tell: Flawed movies can be classics of our times (Inception and Fight Club spring to mind) if those flaws don’t detract from your enjoyment of it because of how well done everything else is.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

 

Crysis 3

The Crysis FPS/RPG franchise can, in terms of its production, be compared to the works of Michael Bay. Its oeuvre consists of shallow, feel-good action romps with a particular eye for visual flair. This was enough to carry the works of Bay until his 2009 critical flop Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen, but the notoriously fickle gaming industry has already abandoned Crysis after just three games, which is surprising considering how overall decent the first two were.

(more…)

Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan

They look damn good in a baseball cap, though.

Yeah, a city famous for never going dark is the perfect place for beings who require dark places to live.

I dislike “The Angels Take Manhattan” even more than I did last week’s “The Power of Three”, but it’s not a worse episode: On the contrary – the heady heights it climbs to are wonderful, but only serve to underline the depths of inconsistency and stupidity it falls to, especially around the last act of the episode.

Like “The Power of Three”, the episode suffers from having too many ideas to squeeze into 40 minutes – the most glaring of which, of course, are the departure of longtime companions Amy Pond and Rory Williams. I loved these characters, and was hoping that “The Angels Take Manhattan” to be a climactic, dramatic swan-song.

Which is where we run into the big problem. This episode isn’t about Amy and Rory leaving, it’s about…well, the Weeping Angels in Manhattan. Both these ideas are rock-solid concepts for classic episodes, but they just don’t work as well when crammed together, and neither the malevolent statues or ebullient Scots can get enough focus. (more…)

The Dark Knight Rises

yearlaterises

I’d be remiss if I didn’t weigh in on the tragic Colorado theater shootings that so marred this film’s release…

So I guess I’ll just sit here and be remiss, then. On with the show, folks.

Not counting my previous “review”, this is the first comic-book movie I’ve talked about on this site. And so, I’m laying my cards on the table right away: I don’t read comic books. Never have, never plan to. My experience with the medium comes through pop-cultural osmosis, internet memes in the vein of “The Flash makes his pants out of GOES FAST” and “Lex Luthor stole forty cakes, and that’s terrible”, and various adaptations, not the least of which is Christopher Nolan’s take on Batman, the Dark Knight Saga.

Said Saga, a trilogy that concluded in last year’s climactic The Dark Knight Rises, is probably the most well-known and influential trilogy since the original Star Wars. When I realized this, I decided to prepare for the review by rewatching both trilogies in succession.

(more…)