This Week in Geek (27/04-3/05/09)

Buys

A few follow-up purchases this week, among them the HBO series Generation Kill by David Simon. If it's anything like Simon's The Wire, then you understand why I needed to get my hands on it. (Being a Six Feet Under fan as well, should I now look into True Blood?) No sooner had I finished the military history counterfactual book What If? that I found What If? 2. And it's not just military history, which is sweet. But perhaps most exciting to hold in one's hands is the Devil Dinosaur Omnibus, part of my current Kirby obsession.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Coming off some pretty weird movies last week, I followed suit with Charlie Kaufman's directorial debut, Synecdoche New York. So that's what undiluted Kaufman is like, huh? It is a tour de force. I was completely bowled over by it. After I was done, I walked around the apartment stunned, and I wasn't sure I wanted to watch the DVD extras in case it answered questions I wanted to think answer myself (not that they can). My one word review is: Profound. Kaufman happily doesn't use the DVD to explain his film, and a round table of movie bloggers barely touches the surface of its complex ideas. There are also making of interviews and the weird ass cartoons seen on tv screens in the background. This isn't an easy film to watch - it involves a lot of work - but I heartily recommend it.

To cleanse my palate, I then went for the direct-to-DVD Wonder Woman animated movie. I had been warned that it was unexpectedly violent, but at the same time, I'm glad we don't have Amazons hitting people with the flat of their blades. The best compliment I can give this feature is that I would have liked it to be the pilot of a regular series. The designs took a little getting used to because I so loved Bruce Timm's JLU Wonder Woman, but it works. The music is excellent, Wonder Woman kicks some serious ass, and Steve Trevor is an enjoyable character. The DVD includes a good commentary track and a couple of features on the importance of Wonder Woman in popular culture. Also a lot of material published elsewhere (2 JLU episodes and the making of featurette previewed on New Frontier). The Green Lantern feature is next and looks promising as well.

And over the weekend, I flipped Doctor Who's 131st story, Warriors of the Deep, featuring the 5th Doctor versus the redesigned Silurians and Sea Devils. They look great, as do the scenes shot outside the regular studio and the model work, and the very last scene is a classic, classic heartbreaker. So it's really too bad that in general, the story suffers from poor production values (the Myrka is one of the worst Doctor Who monsters ever, and there's the matter of those nerf doors) and terrible acting from the guest artists. The DVD makes up for it with a commentary track that doesn't shy from laughing at the rubbish parts, a strong "what went wrong" making of and period piece on the effects.

Books: Speaking of Doctor Who, I needed some light reading for going to work this week, so I grabbed The Price of Paradise, one of the New Series novels, quick reads aimed at the young adults, that have ranged from entertaining light reading to terrible. Colin Brake's entry is the former. The Doctor and Rose end up on a Utopian paradise planet in perfect ecological balance, but of course their presence (and that of other outsiders) threatens to send the whole planet into chaos. Many of these books have been let downs in some part because of their stylelessness and lack of description, but the house style is finally starting to loosen up, I feel. A readable, if not spectacular, story with a well drawn supporting cast and well-described action.

Only took a couple days, and that's the Rose era done, so why not grab Martha's first novel appearance? That would be Stephen Cole's Sting of the Zygons. Cole writes his best New Series book here through good use of an old Doctor Who monster. His Zygons are well clever and the story takes a number of unexpected twists and turns. Lots of fun, and the Doctor/Martha relationship is more successful than early attempts at the Doctor and Rose. One of my favorites yet!





Oh what the hell, just one more. But a short one. Made of Steel really is a "Quick Read", a short novella in a line aimed at helping people learn to read. A fun read from the pen of Terrence Dicks, an old pro at writing episode-length stories. (He was script editor in the Pertwee era and wrote for 4 Doctors on tv, as well as penning most of the Target novelizations.) I'm most struck by his ability to let us know a little about even the lowliest of guest characters, often just before they get killed. It's a brief tale about Cybermen that survived the battle of Canary Wharf, but a logical one. At 99 pages, it gave me, the Doctor and Martha something to do yesterday morning.

New Unauthorized Doctor Who CCG cards: all of the Sarah Jane Adventures premiums, with amounts to 7 cards, including the baby Slitheen (awwwww). Next up is the Masters of War expansion, a full 190-card set that features a Silurian/Sea Devil starter deck.Someone Else's Post of the Week
Campaign Mastery had an interesting post about Humor in RPGs this week.

3 comments:

Sea-of-Green said...

Oh, that Devil Dinosaur Omnibus is a sweet, sweet book to have. Of course, I'm biased because I've always loved Devil Dinosaur, anyway. ;-)

mwb said...

Agreed about Timm's JLU Wonder Woman, it really set such a standard for me that I've held off seeing this. Even though Gail Simone worked on it and I was loving her take on WW in the comic - but now I'm little less enthusiastic about the comic (better than much that has gone before but not hitting the same level or the level of JLU IMO.)

(And yes I've returned from my vacation from the 'net and I'm slowly catching up.)

Siskoid said...

Welcome back Mwb!

If you liked Gail's first 4 issues, you'll like this movie.

 

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