Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January Recap

It's the first-ever Recap post!  In case you haven't been paying attention to this blog at all the last month, here's where you can catch up on some things you missed.

From the number of views, the top 5 entries this month were:
  1. How to Do a Wonder Woman Movie Without Even Trying
  2. Thursday Review:  Movie Catch-Up
  3. Thursday Review:  2012 Reads
  4. Thursday Review:  The Night's Legacy (Sales generated by this?  Zero.)
  5. Two-Cent Tuesday:  The Brave New World of Publishing
Yay, Thursdays! Also 1, 4, and 5 were all in the same week so people really paid attention that week.
In addition to that, here are some other things I've read/watched this month and want to share some thoughts on:
1.  Arkham Asylum:  The graphic novel, not the video game.  I don't have a PS3 or XBox 360 to play the game and it's probably too complicated for me anyway.  The game is slightly based on the 1989 graphic novel by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean.

The gist of the plot is that the inmates have taken control of the asylum and demand Batman go in to play with them.  Mixed in with this is the story of Amadeus Arkham, the founder of the asylum, who becomes one of the inmates.  That substory was actually more interesting than the main story to me; it would make a great standalone novel or a horror movie.  Unlike the video game, there's not a lot of action involved in the main story, except for the battle between Batman and Killer Croc.

I was glad I couldn't buy this online because the actual comic is very difficult to read.  Not just Morrison's story but the artwork by McKean is so murky and much of the lettering (especially for the Joker) is hard to decipher, especially if you have shitty eyesight like I do.  Really if you want to read this you have to get the 15th Anniversary edition that has Morrison's original script and even better some author commentary included with it.  That really helped to spell out a lot of the symbolic elements.  Plus there are a lot of interesting factoids in there.  Like me, Morrison didn't really like the 80s Frank Miller Batman, who was a violent psycho little better than the criminals he fought against, so Morrison conceived the story to create a different version of Batman.  His original concept for the Joker was to have him dressed as Madonna (the "singer" ick) but the people in charge nixed that idea.  There are also some deleted scenes in the script.  If you ever read Morrison's later Batman RIP series you can see where he reuses some of this material.

Anyway, while I didn't like the actual graphic novel so much the extras made it really interesting.  (And if you like extras, maybe go check out the Special Features tab sometime.  I'm just saying...)

2.  Archer:  Briane Pagel turned me on to this FX show a couple of years ago.  It's a hilarious and foul-mouthed spoof on James Bond.  Or like Austin Powers if it were rewritten by Seth MacFarlane and had an R-rating.  Season 3 came out on DVD not long ago so I bought that to rewatch it--that season wasn't on Netflix yet--which also included the "Heart of Archness" trilogy that I missed most of because it was aired between seasons 2 and 3.  This isn't my favorite animated show, but it is fun.  I just wish Jon Benjamin could do more than one voice.  I mean all his characters (Archer, Carl the convenience store clerk/Yoda on Family Guy, Bob's Burgers) sound exactly the same.  It's kind of distracting.  Though for the first episode of Season 4 it did lead to a hilarious bit where Archer thinks he is Bob's Burgers.  There is a lot of potty/sexual humor so it's not something to watch with your kids.

3.  Up So Down by Briane Pagel:  Speaking of Mr. Pagel, I read his Up So Down this month.  It was nearly as good as The After.  You can read my full review here, but suffice it to say if you liked The After you should read this.  And if you haven't read either, go buy them both because they're only 99 cents each!

4.  Ted:  This was funny, though pretty predictable.  Basically if you like Family Guy then you'll like this movie.  If you don't, then fuck it.

5.  Dredd:  This Judge Dredd has to be the least charismatic character ever put on screen.  He never once takes off his helmet, so we never see more than his mouth and stubble.  Does he even have a first name?  Did he grow up somewhere?  Does he have any backstory at all?  Ah, why bother making characters when we can just shoot people and blow stuff up?  Yeah, so there.  It's kind of like watching the Expendables movies (also by Lionsgate) where you go into it not really expecting much in terms of plot or characters, just lots of action.  And it delivers!  But since there was no Rob Schneider involved it by default is better than the 90s movie.

6.  TekWar Just to piss of Michael Offutt, I'm going to mention Bill Shatner's novel TekWar, which I got on sale from Amazon over the holidays and finally got around to read.  I was prepared for it to be really terrible, but it wasn't so bad.  It wasn't the greatest thing I've ever read either.  It's a serviceable sci-fi detective story, like a poor man's "Blade Runner."  The actual writing isn't great--see my entry on -ing verbs, of which Shatner uses many needlessly with phrases like "came running at" and so on.  I watched the TV movies at one point on Netflix but they are no longer there.  The book was actually better because it covers a bit more ground.  I have four more of the books to read at some point just to see how bad they get.

7.  Warrior:  This is the 2011 movie that starred Tom Hardy (of Inception and Dark Knight Rises fame) and some other guy as estranged brothers who end up fighting against each other in a big MMA tourney.  Most of the movies is a string of cliches:  the father was an abusive drunk, Tom Hardy ran away from the army, his older brother is losing his home but determined to win.  The older brother is basically Rocky combined with Walter White of "Breaking Bad"--basically if Walt had decided to be an MMA underdog instead of dealing meth.  The scenario is fairly ludicrous as no one figures out Tommy is a deserted until the end--and then the Marines let him fight yet!  (In the old days deserters got a firing squad, but now I guess they're more forgiving.)  The end fight where the brothers square off makes up for the shortcomings in the rest of the film.  And I suppose that beatdown saved on years of therapy.

8.  Total Recall (2012):  This was an exciting movie, but the plot was pretty ludicrous.  I'm not one of those who says they should have kept it on Mars, but the whole thing where people can only live on England or Australia and have to commute from Down Under to the UK everyday via high-speed train is pretty dumb.  Plus while the people in charge are all in England they all speak like Americans.  WTF?  Instead of stopping some invasion, it would have kept more with the original if there had been some way to revitalize the rest of the world that was being held hostage by the people in charge who didn't want to lose what they had.  But whatever.

9.  Premium Rush:  Joseph Gordon-Leavitt outruns a manic Michael Shannon on his bike, probably with the aid of PEDs.  It was another exciting movie, even if the plot is paper thin and character development almost nonexistent.  Here's a little superhero movie trivia:  you have Joseph Gordon Leavitt (Robin from the Dark Knight Rises) vs. Michael Shannon (General Zod in the upcoming Man of Steel) in a movie written/directed by David Koepp, who wrote the first Spider-Man movie, which contained a line where Tobey Maguire claims to be hit by a bike messenger.  Neat.

Tomorrow I make my Oscar Picks!


  1. I thought about you last night while watching a program on TV about Super heroes.It was really interesting. They did a great segment on Wonder Woman. I never watched it and had no idea it was a feminist manifesto--according to Linda Carter anyway.

  2. Dredd sounds like what Lionsgate did with Punisher" War Zone.

  3. I saw Dredd too. I kinda liked it, but only in that it seemed to be a remake of The Raid, which came out about a year earlier. I mean, it was REALLY similar. Like, it seemed like they used a few of the same sets and everything.

    Dug Premium Rush a lot. Hated Total Recall though. I was bored, actually bored, watching it. It made me so mad.

    Tekwar, I saw you reading those on Goodreads and was curious what you thought about them. I remember the TV show and never really liked it that much, and didn't have that much confidence in Shatner as a writer so I never picked up the novels.

    Watched a few episodes of Archer about a week ago. It was pretty funny. Kind of have to only watch a few episodes at a time though. It wears me out.

    And I did see Ted as well, liked it, very standard plot though, considering how different I expected it to be, it ended up being a huge surprise to me. It was like it knew I expected something different and it tricked me into seeing a pretty typical flick. Very tricky.

  4. I don't understand the need to redo Total Recall.



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