Monday, August 15, 2016

Recent Reads

I haven't written any recommendations in a while and thought that should change.  If I can get a list of comics together, I'll do the same for them.

The Night Circus
Jim Dale narrating makes anything better.  That's not to say the story isn't good, but he adds a bit of magic and whimsy that I'm unable to separate from the text itself.

There's a circus, obviously, which is the stage for a magical duel spanning decades.  The book sucked me in immediately and I found myself hitting play every spare minute I had until complete.  Recommended for fans of Neil Gaiman.

Age of Myth
I can't get enough of the world of Riyria.  Set 3,000 years before the events of Chronicles and Revelations, this is a telling of the events that set those series in motion.  NOTE: Read the other series before this.

But What If We're Wrong
This was hard to get into because it didn't initially appear to be what I thought.  At its core, the book is trying to think about what we know today as if we're from the future, examining past ways of thinking. 

Aristotle believed thrown rocks fell to Earth because the Earth was the natural place for rocks and that all bodies move toward their natural place.  And if we were wrong about gravity for nearly 2,000 years, it begs the question - what are we wrong about today?  While there's no answers, it does make for a fascinating read.

The book opens with the Moon exploding.  This is a bigger deal than it may seem and the rest of the book focuses on humanity trying to survive the ramifications of this event.  Recommended if you liked the science-y bits of The Martian.

This is a bit of a weird one.  Wil Wheaton still annoys me and I'm beginning to think Ernest Cline is a bit like Dan Brown in that he's not nearly as good of a writer as everyone seems to think.  While the story is entertaining enough, some character traits make little else and border on infuriating.  Everything here felt familiar.  It's supposed to, for reasons revealed in the book, but that doesn't excuse it.  Ultimately, it's another 80s movie and video game-fueled research dump with a narrative trying to hold it together.  If you liked Ready Player One, you'll probably enjoy this as well.

NOTE: The dead dad bits touched a surprising nerve but for reasons I can't discuss except with anyone that a) has read the book or b) doesn't intend to.

The Fireman
The book opens with people bursting into flame and it appearing to be contagious.  From there, things quickly escalate into Walking Dead territory - humanity attempting to survive and the terrible things we do to one another in the name of survival, not the zombie bits.  Joe Hill writes, Kate Mulgrew reads, and it's quite good.  If you're not already a fan of Joe Hill's, check out NOS4A2 or Locke & Key.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Suicide Squad and Superhero Movies

A friend that'd been out of town asked about Suicide Squad, which my wife and I watched on Friday.  We both enjoyed it, which is about all I've said to anyone about it when asked.  But he pressed for more and I struggled to find the words.

There's a lot of movies that are okay - not great and not terrible.  I tend to keep my movie "reviews" short, to about a sentence, and as general as possible.  Because there's just too much to encapsulate otherwise and I just don't want to go into that about movies I'm not passionate enough to love or hate.

This is what I eventually said:
It's... I don't know... it's funny, it's violent, it's mostly good but kind of a weak villain.  It's basically a darker Marvel movie (or less comedic Deadpool?) that might give you Pacific Rim flashbacks with the amount of rain at night.

I'm a little afraid using comedy and action to distract from an otherwise poor script might be the new superhero formula.  Marvel's been using it for years, then Deadpool ramped it up to 11, and now DC is getting in the game with Suicide Squad.

Filling a script with comedy and action to make a movie "fun" is hardly limited to superhero movies, but up until this year I've enjoyed the different takes Sony, Fox, and Warner Brothers were taking with their respective properties.

I'm always hopeful the next one will be different, but I'm mostly disappointed.  Entertained, sure, (except in rate instances like Fantastic Four) but there's always a nagging "...but it coulda been better." in the back of my head afterward.