This Week in Geek (26/05-1/06/08)

Buys

Spring sales are going to come in now... I just can't help myself when stuff is discounted at low, low prices! So this week, I got me Babylon 5 Seasons 3, 4, 5 and the Movie Collection. I'm thinking of it as a possible replacement for Star Trek when I've done my final Enterprise review. I don't know yet.

Other stuff? The two new Godzilla releases from Classic Media, including the very bottom of the barrel, All Monsters Attack! (which you may know as Godzilla's Revenge... it's the one where a little kid dreams of Godzilla). There's also Terror of Mechagodzilla, which oddly comes out before Mechagodzilla's first appearance. Shows I'm a completist, no? Plus: The first season of The Invaders, a 1960s series that has intrigued ever since I heard the Frank Black song about it. And Choke, the Chuck Palahniuk novel that's coming out as a movie in August. I love his stuff and want to read it before the end of the summer.

"Accomplishments"

I've been on a reading rampage lately, and so I managed to polish off two books this week. The first is Douglas Coupland's Girlfriend in a Coma, which didn't attract overwhelming critical acclaim, probably because of the fantastical elements that crash into the story about mid-way. Except that these seem perfectly at home in the lives of characters who work on the X-Files tv show. What we have here is something of an ancestor of the much better Hey, Nostradamus, as Richard's girlfriend falls into a deep coma from which she will only awaken 17 years later... just in time for the Apocalypse. The metaphysics do tend to turn into sermons, which is too bad because Coupland also manages real tension and heart here. Final grade: Liked it.

Next came Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road, which he really wanted to call Jews with Swords, if that helps. It's the story of pair of sword-slinging, swindling mercenaries in the Caucasus in the early days of Islam (I don't have a date for you, sorry). It's a beautifully packaged book, with nice Gary Gianni illustrations (I've liked his Shadow and Batman stuff, and he's as good here). If Chabon seems intent on applying his rich literary style to genre fiction (here, "sword and horses" adventure), I won't be the one to object. Final grade: Too short!


Movies... Well, I finally flipped Spider-Man 3, determined to prove to myself it wasn't as bad as reported. And I was right. Yes, there's too much going on here, and Venom certainly doesn't fit the theme of forgiveness that's motivating the rest of the screenplay. Most certainly, the film would have worked better if Peter went over the edge without the help of the black costume (which pretty much acquits him of his misdeeds), and Venom's story deserved its own feature (instead of taking vital screen time away from Sandman's). Still, the scenes taken out of the flawed structure do work more often than not. Some fun, some emotion, Gwen's a hottie, scenes for every recurring character... The parts are better than their sum. The DVD package is what you expect, a mix of behind the scenes material, outtakes and (really very positive and diplomatic) commentary tracks.

Then came Invasion of Astro-Monster AKA War of the Monsters AKA Monster Zero AKA Godzilla vs. Monster Zero. Now this was a lot of fun, but then I'm of the opinion that Rodan and King Ghidora make any Godzilla film better. And yet, there aren't a lot of giant monster battles in this one, the plot more interested in astronauts encountering aliens from Planet X, who have hatched a plan to control our noble monsters to destroy the Earth. What a strange place the Godzilla universe is! The integration of miniatures and the effects are quite impressive here, but I was most taken by Kumi Mizuno as the alien mole. Va-va-voooom! The DVD package is of the usual high quality, though the commentary track is perhaps a bit too focused on biographies and filmographies for my tastes.

Finally, I flipped a bare bones copy of Sam Peckinpah's Straw Dogs, an odd and sometimes shocking little film starring Dustin Hoffman. This thriller asks questions about how a man who has refused to commit violence all his life can cope with the violence thrust upon him. Does pacifism actually ATTRACT violence? Is there a point at which one must put one's pants on and commit violence as a deterrent? We're not dealing in absolutes here. I'm giving major props to the editing which ups the tension about 1000%. Slow to start, provocative, and not for the feint of heart.

No details on my RPG night because the second part of the story is tomorrow night, but I'll just say it was a pure superhero story where the twist was that the newly minted characters were actually Earth's oldest and most respected team. So they started with a lot of toys and a lot of enemies already.

Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG: 12 new cards, mostly from School Reunion.

GTA4 completion: 39.88%. Addiction Level: Fiend.

Someone Else's Post of the Week
A new blog around these parts, Snell's I Expect You To Die!, all about James Bond, is excellent and I want to direct more internet traffic to it. Snell's analysis of Dr. No is a great start, though there's more there already.

3 comments:

Madeley said...

I'd vote in favour of episode-by-episode reviews of B5. It'd be an interesting to contrast the different styles of JMS' work and Trek.

Siskoid said...

Also my thinking. It might also have more general appeal than continuing with Trek reviews of the comics and novels that fewer people have read. (Maybe keep that at a weekly pace?)

Andrew Gilbertson said...

I very much agree about Spider-man 3. Without Venom, I think it would've been a tip-top movie; as it was, it's still my favorite Spide-rman film, simply on the strength of the Sandman stuff. That 'birth scene'- pure visual poetry.

 

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