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Overdue Media Reviews - The Book of the Celestial Cow

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June 26th, 2011


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10:32 pm - Overdue Media Reviews
Over a month ago, I saw Thor! It was great! I wasn't really familiar with the story, but, given that the movie starts off with, like, a twenty-minute prologue, I was given the necessary information to follow it. It was entertaining and character-focused and just really good.

I think more than any Marvel movie so far, Thor requires the greatest suspension of disbelief. I mean, it needs a metric fuckton of it. The other movies require to you to buy that one man can become a superhero. This one introduces alien Norse gods and Frost Giants and other worlds into the thus-far fairly grounded universe. So mad props to Kenneth Branagh for making me buy it. Except I still cry, "WHY ARE THERE HORSES? WHERE DID THE HORSES COME FROM?"

All the references to other characters in the Marvelverse pleased me greatly. I really love how Marvel is creating a movieverse. Really really love it. Has this been done before? A bunch of unrelated movies taking place in a shared universe? I racked my brain and came up with the View Askewniverse, but I'm sure there are others. Except this is maybe the first time it's been done with different filmmakers all playing in one sandbox?

Also, that scene with shirtless Thor was...even I couldn't stop staring. In heterosexual news, Natalie Portman sure is pretty.



It is somewhat difficult to review Deadline, Mira Grant's sequel to Feed, without spoiling the first book, and I would of course never recommend someone read the second book in a trilogy without reading the first book because WHAT THE HELL. So instead I will point you to this fabulous review that sings the praises of both books without spoiling either one! Also, enjoy this book trailer! And, okay, I will say some words.

It is important going into Deadline knowing that it is a very different book from Feed. It has to be, of course, given the events of Feed. The first time I read it, that put me off, but the second time around, I appreciated it much more on its own terms. I enjoyed spending more time with the After the End Times crew. I was intrigued by the deepening conspiracy. And the worldbuilding remained intricate and interesting.

I believe these books deserve to be absurdly popular and turned into awesome movies. If you think they're just another series of zombie books, let me tell they are almost frustratingly low on actual zombie content (Deadline has even fewer onscreen zombies than Feed). The zombies are not the story; the people are. The zombie threat is the setting for a tale of politics, conspiracies, Internet journalism, love, friendship, fear, and that insatiable hunger for not brains but truth.



Jessica, one of my Spelling Bee for Cheaters teammates, recommended Meanwhile, by Jason Shiga, and I found a copy at Dr. Comics that was signed, since the author is a UC Berkeley grad. His degree? Pure mathematics. That should give you an indication of what sort of craziness is in store for you, for, lo, this is a Choose Your Own Adventure comic book.

You go get some ice cream. Your first decision? Chocolate or vanilla. Follow the path for boring old vanilla, and your story ends in boringness. Choose chocolate, however, and you find yourself at the home of a mad scientist with a time machine, a memory-reading machine, and, uh, the Killitron 2000. Guess what that one does. Now you are thrust into a hilariously complicated puzzle as you play with these three machines and attempt to avoid the dire consequences of your meddling! While the cover purports "3,586 Story Possibilities," what actually ends up happening is that you go around in circles a lot. But there are, in fact, correct paths! Paths that you must go down in order to get the machine codes and solve the horrific secret at the center of the story! And you can't cheat your way through the book either; in fact, just for people like that, Shiga stuck in a page that's impossible to get to by any path, just to fuck with you.

The entire book is navigable online, but it's much more fun as a physical book, which uses tabs that lead you from page to page. Plus, glorious color! You guys, this is a book that was MADE WITH ALGORITHMS. It's fun times.



You guys, remember when X-Men movies were good? Because X-Men: First Class does! I think I liked it more than Thor. It told an interesting story with compelling characters who just happened to have mutant powers. It's almost surprising how good it really is, but it does have a great cast and director: I've liked everything Matthew Vaughn has done.

It's hard to put my finger on what's so good about it, but the fact that it's over two hours long and I was into it—and often totally into it—every minute of the way should be a ringing endorsement.



To fill in a short gap between reading projects, I decided to read a couple Christopher Pike books I had picked up in Tucson. I remembered liking The Eternal Enemy, so I tried that one first. And, uh, it was not only hilariously dated (the plot revolves around a VCR that can tape the future) but, uh, poorly written. Telling rather than showing up the ass, combined with the occasional florid, overwritten prose. The main thing I remembered was the plot twist, but I had forgotten that the book then spends forty pages explaining the actual premise of the story, and that's where the pretty interesting stuff is. Even though, from a narrative perspective, what. I followed it up with Master of Murder, which doesn't have any supernatural elements except for the absurd idea that a high school student could pseudonymously be a bestselling mystery author (and a fictional publishing industry that would release books in a series over the course of ONE YEAR rather than six). This one was a little better written, or maybe it was just that I had gotten used to Pike's style, but I found myself very disturbed by the main character, our ostensible hero, as the life-imitates-art-imitates-life story went on. I have a few other Pike books I'd like to reread, but I don't know whether I should just enjoy them as nostalgic remnants of my youth.



And speaking of nostalgic remnants of my youth, Super 8 is really good! It's totally a throwback movie, like Goonies meets Jaws where the shark is an alien and the Goonies are kids making a zombie movie. I did appreciate that the bulk of the movie was focused on the characters, and the alien wasn't actually driving the human drama (but, no worries, the movie is not bereft of awesome alien action). I wonder if they'll make Super 9. (Note to Hollywood: please don't make Super 9.)



With the announcement that Bane would be the villain in The Dark Knight Rises, I thought it was finally time to read Batman: Knightfall, largely written by Chuck Dixon and Doug Moench, the classic tale in which Bane breaks the Bat. And for the first book, which focuses on an increasingly ragged Batman trying to stop the many inmates Bane has released from Arkham just to weaken him further, it's a decent story. But once the Bat is broken, he knows he needs someone out there keeping the symbol alive, and he appoints Azrael, whom I knew very little about but is basically a GIANT DOUCHE AND I HATE HIM. And so Knightfall becomes All About Azrael, when I wanted to read a story about Batman. Hell, the trade paperback doesn't even collect the issues where Batman is magically healed (among other important developments), so reading the story this way is kind of odd. We don't even learn about Bane's motivation for wanting to take down Batman and rule Gotham; apparently, that was covered in his introduction.

Not that there isn't good stuff here and there, of course. Tim and Dick are great, and the classic villains are fun. But I've read good Batman stories. This is not one of them.
Current Mood: confusedconfused
Current Music: Shiny Toy Guns - Rainy Monday

(30 memoirs | Describe me as "inscrutable")

Comments:


From:birdsarecalling
Date:June 27th, 2011 05:46 am (UTC)
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Oddly enough, I found Thor easier to buy into than the other Marvel superhero movies. I think it's because superheroes only look more cartoony when placed against a real-world backdrop. They don't fit in. Whereas, if a story is already set in prog rock utopia, then why the hell shouldn't it star some magic aliens? Anything goes.
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From:sabra_n
Date:June 27th, 2011 06:38 am (UTC)
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Is Feed the book with the RSS feed logo on the cover? I have to admit I eyerolled hard at that when I saw it in the bookstore.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 27th, 2011 06:47 am (UTC)
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That's the one. NO EYEROLLING IT'S AWESOME.
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From:ashfae
Date:June 27th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
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Loved Thor, it was very pretty.

Loved X-men, it was made of fucking awesome.
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From:equustel
Date:June 27th, 2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
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X-Men was 2+ hours? No way. That movie had lightning fast pacing. o_O

But yes, I concur, it kicked trash right along with Thor. Pretty awesome movie debuts for my two favorite TSCC writers (Ashley Miller and Zack Stentz); they've had a good summer. And MICHAEL FASSBENDER needs to take over the world, pretty much... or at the very least play Daredevil. PLEASE, WORLD?

Now I just hope Captain America is as wonderful as it looks. (I didn't really have any hope for Green Lantern, but I'll probably see it at some point anyway. I don't know what it is about Ryan Reynolds that makes me cringe so frelling much.)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 27th, 2011 03:35 pm (UTC)
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X-Men was 2+ hours? No way. That movie had lightning fast pacing. o_O
Right? 2 hours, 11 minutes.

I like Ryan Reynolds, but I think I'll wait for Netflix for Green Lantern, given that I was still unsure from the trailers and the reviews have been terrible. I don't know about Captain America, but I like Chris Evans, and it at least looks like it won't be a huge CGI-fest.
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From:beeker121
Date:June 27th, 2011 05:44 pm (UTC)
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Super 8 is my favorite movie of the summer so far. I liked being in a world that worried about characters, and more Kyle Chandler makes me happy. I agree that X-men was slightly better than Thor, though both were good.

My boyfriend is already counting the days to the release of Deadline, it's fun when we get hooked on the same books.

Also, hi!
From:dotificus
Date:June 27th, 2011 09:53 pm (UTC)
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I thought THOR was fun but not very compelling. Even though they're very pretty, I didn't really buy the romance. And I was disappointed in Loki -- thought he should have been more wicked cool fun. A trickster!

Like everyone who grew up on Spielberg, I loved Super 8, but interestingly to me, my 12 year old son, who is a geeky chip off the geeky block, did not even like it. He found it dull and predictable.

*adds MEANWHILE to list*
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 27th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
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While I appreciate Parker and Hardison, has there ever been a more appropriate time to use your CYOA icon??
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From:etherealclarity
Date:June 27th, 2011 10:48 pm (UTC)
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Thor - enjoyed it for what it was, but mainly thought it superficial fun. Brett loved it though.

Super 8 - Loved the story about the kids, but the monster movie got worse and worse as it went on (I thought the ending was particularly annoying... too Spielburg-esque).

Feed/Deadline - FINALLY got around to reading Feed, and very much enjoyed it! Definitely didn't see the ending coming. Just started Deadline on my Kindle.

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GET AROUND TO READING THE WALKING DEAD IT IS SO GOOD OMG OMG OMG.
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 27th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
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I wasn't quite sure what was up with the ending of Super 8, but I thought the monster movie was great up until that point, and the story about the kids was good enough to make up for anything else.

Glad you dug Feed!

THERE ARE SO MANY VOLUMES OF WALKING DEAD I HAVE TO HAVE ACCESS TO THEM ALL BEFORE I EVEN CONSIDER THE TIME COMMITMENT.
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From:girltype
Date:June 28th, 2011 03:06 am (UTC)
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Movie-verse Marvel is working all is crazy-awesome. So can't wait for Avengers for it to all wrap up and make sense. Plus that means MORE Loki!
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From:soundingsea
Date:June 29th, 2011 01:57 am (UTC)
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Okay, okay. I'll go see Thor. :) I liked XMFC and Super 8, so chances are good I'll like that too.

Man, Deadline was just fantastic.

Okay, I think I need that Meanwhile book.
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From:thetheatremouse
Date:June 30th, 2011 01:18 am (UTC)
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Were they regular boring horses, or 8 legged horses?
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From:spectralbovine
Date:June 30th, 2011 04:05 am (UTC)
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Regular!
(Deleted comment)
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From:spectralbovine
Date:July 6th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
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I have not backlashed! Thor is still good!

You must read Feed!

Meanwhile is not too smart for regular people. It is just silly fun that engages your brain.

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