At the movies: Everybody seems to be loving Guardians of the Galaxy, and I'm no different. It uses the same basic formula other Marvel films do, comedy bouncing off the action and heartfelt drama, though of course, pushing the comedy a lot more. I don't know this version of the Guardians very well - I had plans to one day read Annihilation, but never did - so it took a good half-hour before I really got into it. A lot of new concepts to take in. I was moved most of the way through - look, I can't watch Rocket Raccoon on screen without thinking of that story about the film people giving Bill Mantlo a private showing and getting verklempt - but it took me a while to start laughing at the jokes. Once the seal was broken though, GotG kept me laughing and crying (not just for the Mantlo thing) and going oooh at the references to old comics. Came out of it thinking Disney had a perfect template for what their new Star Wars movies should feel like (Star-Lord as Luke, Rocket as Han Solo and Groot as Chewbacca, principally; Gamora is a post-Empire Leia and Drax is C3PO maybe, it's not important). Other will compare it to Firefly, but then, it uses Whedonistic balloon punctures, by which I mean cliché hero moments that get turned on their heads and laughed at. Nice soundtrack and score too. The kind of fun emotional roller-coaster that makes you want to get back in line immediately after seeing it.
DVDs: Darren Aronofsky's Noah takes the Biblical source material and weaves a huge fantasy around it, tying the Flood right on back to everything in Genesis prior to it, as well as foreshadowing what comes after (Abraham's near sacrifice of Isaac comes to mind). Me? I was just happy to see my favorite bit from the story, Noah's sons covering their drunk father with a blanket (yes, I know I'm strange). To make the short story work as a feature film, Aronofsky fills out the family drama and character psychology, makes attempts at presenting an antediluvian culture (or are we seeing our own far future?), and explains the logistics of the story in a way the Bible doesn't (how Noah manages to build this giant Ark with no manpower, how the animals survive all that time aboard, etc.). It's grand myth. I wish the DVD included extras, because I would have loved to hear about the process of adapting the original story, the Christian and Jewish response, and the art exhibit the film spawned. Alas, I'll just have to read about it on the Internet.
Books: The Con Job is a cleverly-titled Leverage tie-in, because the con is being perpetrated at San Diego's Comic-Con. Get it? Writer Matt Forbeck does a good job of translating the TV show's characters into book form, and he certainly puts his research (or experience) of conventions to good use in this caper about faked comic book art, wronged artists and dangerous hentai magnates, with nods to cosplay, nerf sword fighting and backroom role-playing. As a piece of writing, it feels padded (do I need to know what Sophie thinks of Crisis on Infinite Earths?) and makes its points several times over. It could probably have been half the size. Maybe some of the explanations will be useful to non-geeks and help them get immersed into the world Hardison references so frequently. I don't know. I still give it a passing grade. It's a fun romp, with special guest-stars and amusing situations, at a location/event that feels well-researched, even if it needn't have been brought into play so entirely.