Pacific Rim Review

Pacific Rim Review (Film, 2013)

Pacific Rim Review ThumbGuillermo Del Toro has promised the world an H.P. Lovecraft film for years and he may have just quietly delivered it in Pacific Rim.

In the not to distant future, a rift has open beneath the ocean that transports colossal monsters, called Kaiju (arguably Ancient Ones ala Lovecraft), to earth. The only thing that successful stops the Kaiju is Jaeger technology, giant robots controlled by two pilots. The pilots link on a subconscious level to control half of a Jaeger each with perfect coordination. When more powerful monsters than ever are poised to rise out of the rift, a retired pilot and a total rookie are teamed up as a last resort to hold off the extinction of humanity.

del Toro set out to make an airy summer action film and turned out another dark, brooding, and thoughtful genre film instead. Continue reading

Would You Rather Review

Would You Rather Review (Film, 2012)

Would You Rather ReviewWould You Rather follows a long tradition of horror films that take a normal scenario–a party game, an event, a right of passage–and turn it into a blood-soaked nightmare of ever-worsening odds. As evident from the title, Would You Rather is a horror film centered on the party game of the same name. A billionaire invites eight down on their luck people to compete for all the money and resources they need to fix their lives. The catch is that only one person can survive the game without being eliminated, really executed.

Screenwriter David Guy Levy does manage to create a lot of suspense and intrigue once the game is in motion. The problem is that he tips his hand too early. We only meet one of the contestants for real before the game begins. The rest are introduced at the party itself. You just know that character is going to be onscreen as long as possible because the audience is already set to root for her. If the film actually started at the dinner party and introduced everyone before the game began, all of the narrative problems would be avoided. Continue reading

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse Review

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse by Diana Rowland (Book, Review)

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse, the third book in Diana Rowland’s clever urban fantasy series about zombies who pass as human so long as they eat enough brains, shifts the series in a new direction. Angel Crawford, the former junkie turned zombie turned productive morgue worker turned zombie mob doll, is still recovering from the trauma of militarized zombie experiments. She begins to rely more on the zombie mob boss Pietro against the wishes of her boyfriend (son of Pietro) Marcus’ wishes. At least Pietro is willing to show her a little respect after the danger he inadvertently put her in. Something strange is going on during the filming of a zombie movie in town and Angel is more than willing to find out what’s happening for the good of her new zombie family.

White Trash Zombie Apocalypse Diana RowlandDiana Rowland makes two huge changes in White Trash Zombie Apocalypse that change the premise of the series. First, she flips the intimidating zombie mob boss into a sympathetic father figure for Angel. It’s a radical but welcome shift in character that opens up far better narrative possibilities as the series goes on. Angel’s in with the mob now and she’s ready and willing to work with Pietro to reach both of their goals.

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The Wolverine Review

The Wolverine Review (Film, 2013)

The Wolverine ReviewThe blessing and the curse of adapting a film from the X-Men universe is the breadth of material. They have been featured in Marvel comics since their creation in 1963. There are hundreds of mutants, thousands of stories, and endless possibilities to adapt for the big screen. Do you tell one story? Many stories? Focus on one character? All the characters? Go political? Go sci-fi? Go topical?

The Wolverine fuses together a mismatched batch of characters and stories connected to the Wolverine Japanese Saga and the Silver Samurai. In a nutshell, we discover that Wolverine saved a Japanese general during World War II from being evaporated during the bombing of Nagasaki. In the present day, a skilled mutant/ninja/assassin named Yukio is sent to America to bring Wolverine face to face with the man he saved. That man is now the leader of a multi-billion dollar corporation and promises that he can make Wolverine a mortal man again. Continue reading

The Guild: The Official Companion Review

The Guild: The Official Companion (Book, Review)

The Guild: The Official Companion ReviewThe book used for this review was provided by Titan Books.

Felicia Day has quietly become one of my biggest online inspirations. I greatly admire the media empire she has built around the Internet and geek culture. The largest factor in this success is her original web series The Guild, about a group of six online gamers forced to meet in real life when one character appears unannounced on game addict Codex’s doorstep.

Now, after six seasons and many well-deserved awards, The Guild takes another step into the real world with The Guild: The Official Companion. This book is a series of interviews with the cast, crew, and producers detailing the history of the show, casting, fan reaction, and spin-off projects that helped turn The Guild into a success. The interviews are woven into a chronological narrative exploring the development and growth of the show. Continue reading

Watch: Fiona Apple’s “Hot Knife”

Earlier this year, I named Fiona Apple’s song “Hot Knife” one of the best songs of 2012. I never expected it to go further than that. It felt a little too off-beat to be a single. Then I remembered we were talking about Fiona Apple.

Her new music video is “Hot Knife” and it’s captivating. The song–a series of stacked vocals over a timpani and occasional piano riff–is quite lovely. It’s a simple metaphor about loving someone spun to new dimensions with layered in new interpolations that alter the meaning.

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The Conjuring Review

The Conjuring Review (Film, 2013)

The Conjuring ReviewSorry for my absence over the past week and a half. I was sick from ConnectiCon and in tech/dress/run on summer camp shows. I’ve mostly recovered now and feel up to writing and handling all the day job craziness again.

Haunted house movies are a hard sell nowadays. Between the minimalist found footage style of the Paranormal Activity and the hard turn back into over the top dark comedy/horror ala Drag Me to Hell, Evil Dead, and This Is the End, the era of quiet narrative cozies taking audiences by surprise is on the wane. The Conjuring attempts to have it both ways, going over the top with implausible horror stunt sequences and underplaying a rich tapestry of family drama.

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