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Archive for May, 2011

The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 26 : Darksaber

Thank the little baby Jesus! I was afraid that my ability to enjoy a Star Wars novel was completely dashed upon the rocks when I read Children of the Jedi. I’m not going to lie. I had to read two random books just to get the damned taste out of my mouth. Luckily Darksaber is in another league altogether. I think Kevin Anderson just grasps the sort of narrative flow of the expanded universe better than Barbara Hambly. The characters and the flow seem to mesh better than in Children of the Jedi, despite the fact that he’s working with mostly the same characters. Callista is still a black hole for me, but that’s mostly personal preference. I feel like Anderson just wanted to write her off entirely but seeing how she pops up again in Planet of Twilight, again written by Hambly. I’ll assume that Hambly liked Callista more than I do.

Darksaber at first seemed poised to turn me off once again, as the “build another Death Star” plot point was not at all enticing. But the side-plots involving the return of Admiral Daala and her attempts to unify the Imperial fleet, which seemed like the logical course of action following the events of the last few books, was quite well written and probably the most engaging element of the book. I really didn’t care one lick about Callista and only truly warmed to the Durga the Hutt/Darksaber plotline about midway through the course of the novel.

I am going to state here and now that I have no intention of reading Planet of Twilight, as I don’t care about Callista and barely made it through Children of the Jedi so I’m going to call that one a bye-week and move on to the final installment of the X-Wing series instead. It’s my blog. I can do what I want dammit.

 

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The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 25 : Children of the Jedi

There are very few novels I actively hate. There have been more than a few that I didn’t care for but only a few that I’ve actively hated. I had to read the Twilight novels for a modern fiction study and the only thing I got out of that experience was a disbelief at what sort of book can get best-seller status. Still, I’ll say the unpopular thing here and say that I hated Dan Brown’s The Davinci Code more than I hated Twilight. I know it sounds insane, but it’s true. I didn’t like reading Twilight and I still think it’s a piss poor excuse for a novel, but it didn’t really raise any sort of resonant response with me, and that’s more why I dismiss it as a work of literature.

I had a sort of mixed reaction in reading Children of the Jedi, because it didn’t work for me on a literary level and it frustrated me just due to the contradictory nature of most of its entirety. The timeline is crazy wrong, which normally can be forgiven because it predates the prequel trilogy, but at the same time the author can’t manage to get the continuity from the previous Jedi Academy series which precede the events of this book. She somehow manages to switch up who destroyed the Sun Crusher, and makes some pretty glaring errors with the physiology of Gamorreans. All of this sounds like crazy fanboy ranting but considering the majority of the people who read these books are hardcore fans, I can’t imagine it would do anything for them either.

This review is going to be short because I don’t want to devote anymore time to it than I have because I felt like the whole book was a big black hole. Boring, dull, not very well written, and other negative adjectives.


Film Review – Pirates of the Caribbean : On Stranger Tides

Go read the reviews for this film elsewhere. All you will read is negativity. And I mean, HARSH negativity. One reviewer in particular equated the watching of this film to eating a biscuit filled with maggots. Last week Priest came out and there was nowhere near this level of vitriol. I really can’t understand it. I’m pretty serious when it comes to film analysis, I used to have aspirations of going through film school and all that jazz. But never in my life will you ever hear me devolve that far into hyperbole unless I am doing so ironically. I feel that when you get to that level of hatred over something so petty as a movie you lose all credibility as a reviewer. Especially considering that by the time you’ve written your little analogy the whole of your piece is more about your own prejudices and life experiences and any actual commentary about the merits of the movie are overshadowed by the reviewer’s baggage.

I’m not going to go so overboard in regards to reviewing this film. Because unlike what most reviewers have been claiming, this movie is really, really simple. What’s funny is that this time around they’ve returned to the quest-based narrative of the original film and people have supposedly been clamoring for that quite a lot during the last two movies where the story got so bloated and ridiculous. Streamlining the story and returning to the core elements that provided the structure for the success of the first film. Where the film falters however, is what the producers built on that foundation. There isn’t as much bombastic wonderment in On Stranger Tides as there was in Curse of the Black Pearl. I think the easiest way to compare and contrast is that in the original the fantasy elements were front and center in a way that drove the story forward whereas in this newest installment the narrative is played mostly straight with some fantasy elements thrown in that don’t ever seem to really matter all that much. Zombies, mermaids, possessed ship rigging, even the fountain of youth; all of them are woven into the plot fairly organically but they don’t have the sort of resonance that Barbossa’s curse did in the first film. They’re just there.

The other criticism I’ve heard thrown at the film is that everyone is just phoning in their performance. I don’t think that’s fair. By the time the fourth film rolls around everything that the main cast attempts is going to seem familiar. It’s just one of the pitfalls that happens when you have a successful franchise that hangs around this long. It’s not that anything is wrong with the performances it’s just that we’re trained to want something new but there’s not a whole lot that you can do with old characters at this point in the game. Even Blackbeard’s performance seems derivative of Ian McShane’s work on Deadwood. The thing that sinks this little ship is familiarity.

That isn’t to say the film isn’t good. It’s quite enjoyable. The 3D element doesn’t add much, admittedly, but it isn’t distracting like in lesser films like Clash of the Titans. I would say that overall the film doesn’t live up to the first film but it stand a little above the last two, just by virtue of the base elements working better than the bloated core of the past two sequels.

The main argument I’m trying to make is that you shouldn’t really care what most of the reviewers are saying, it’s the sort of hyperbole that can be expected from those sort of people. I’m more honest. I think it was okay. There’s no crime in it being just okay. It’s a disappointment, sure, but not on the grand scale that the critical community is making it out to be. And that in itself is a bit a disappointment.


First Look at Bane from “The Dark Knight Rises”

Someone has navigated the hells of the official Dark Knight Rises website in order to find this image of Tom Hardy as the villian Bane. It apparently involved some sort of visualizer for the audio file that loads when you load the page.

It’s not very high-res and I’m not sure what I can say about it other than it looks like he’s wearing black and white striped prison pants and that mask looks like something out of Mortal Kombat. But, in Nolan we trust.

You can click to enlarge it a little bit but not by much…


R.I.P. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

If you grew up watching wrestling the way I did, there is no way to deny the raw charisma and star-power of “Macho Man” Randy Savage. The two-time World Wrestling Federation champion was the epitome of what a pro-wrestler was supposed to be in his era. In my opinion, he embodied the glory days of the WWF even more than Hulk Hogan. He is one of the few wrestlers that any average joe on the street would recognize instantly, having been the celebrity face of Slim-Jim for many years and even starring in the first Spider-Man film as the pro-wrestler BoneSaw who Peter Parker faced in a cage match hoping to earn some quick cash.

Randy Savage, real name Randall Poffo, died today when he lost control of his jeep following an apparent heart attack. The wrestling world has lost a true legend, and we can only take solace in knowing that his death was not marred by circumstances that would make us look back on the man who brought so much joy in the ring and on our televisions and see anything than the legend that he had grown into.

Rest In Peace, Macho Man.


The Great Comics Con Queso Star Wars Expanded Universe Reading Experiment – Entry # 24 : I, Jedi

Wow, that one took forever to get through. Not because it was a bad book but because it was so freaking dense. I think the first-person narrative had a lot to do with it, and to date it’s the only novel in the expanded universe to utilize the format. I suppose it took a while to get into because it effectively retells major parts of the last three books that I just read over the course of the first half and while the different perspective is enough to keep it fresh, there’s just not enough new information to make it a real page turner until our protagonist leaves the Jedi Academy and strikes out on his own.

The book is effectively an unofficial X-Wing novel, centering around Corran Horn and his quest to rescue his kidnapped wife. Over the course of nearly 600 pages he joins Skywalker’s Jedi Academy, leaves for Corellia and learns of his family’s history, joins up with a gang of pirates and works his way up the chain of command ultimately landing him a potential position as the female Admiral’s sexual consort, launches a terrorist campaign as a “ghost” jedi, and stages a daring rescue attempt in the denoument. There is a LOT going on in this novel and it takes a while to cover it. The French version of the book splits it in to two separate novels which I think may have been a wise choice for the American version as you begin to wonder if they couldn’t have edited this thing down a little bit around page 300.

The last half of the book is thoroughly enjoyable and reads a lot better than the Jedi Academy stuff does, mainly because the Jedi Academy stuff didn’t work too terribly well for me the first time around. The last half of the book does feel a little bit like familiar territory if you’ve read the X-Wing novels but then again when it’s the same author and you’re utilizing the same character it’s hard to avoid such problems. But considering that I liked those books and I like this character it seems unfair to use the term “problem” anyway.

Honestly I’m just glad I was able to finish the thing because the first few hundred pages felt like a real slog. Hopefully the next entry will be a little bit more breezy.


Wonder Woman Pilot Picked Up By NBC *UPDATE* Nevermind, It Really Wasn’t.

*UPDATE*
It would appear that since this article was published NBC decided not to pick up the series after all. Which actually makes more sense considering the negative buzz coming out of the screenings of the pilot. I’m not all too bummed about this because it gives a frame of reference for what the producers were doing that fans were not enjoying and they can fix those when they decide it might be easier just to do a standalone film. Thor opening big might make them realize that mythology based heroes can work on the big screen as long as they handle the material correctly.

We can only hope…

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In a move that allowed Wonder Woman fans to breathe a sigh of relief following news that the pilot was not tracking all too well for a fall pick up by NBC, the news was released today that David E. Kelley’s Harry’s Law would be renewed for a second season and Wonder Woman had indeed been picked up for a series as well. This comes on the heels of news that Fox had cancelled their own comic-adaptation series of Human Target and failed to give the green light to an adaptation of Locke and Key which by all accounts was damn brilliant and fans are praying to whatever deity that will listen to have some other network pick it up.

With Smallville ending this week I am hoping that Wonder Woman can pick up the slack in the laughibly ludicrous TV comic book adaptation genre. Everything I’ve seen has me thinking that it’s going to be entertaining on a “what the?” level due to the conflicting tone and overall silliness that is going on in the scripts. I could be wrong but having honed my ability to avoid trainwrecks simply by the cut of their trailer I do not anticipate Wonder Woman being something I will enjoy on any sort of straightforward level. Ironically? Perhaps. But I don’t want to be accused of being a hipster.