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Media Reviews
Category: Media Reviews
Saturday, May 21st, 2005 @ 09:48 pm
Posted By Brent

Please allow me to explain how to fuck up an easy novel. First, take an established universe with loved environments and characters with an ambiguous history. Within this universe, select a character that the reader was never asked to identify with and was never explained their motives. A character where you can leverage their mysterious past to turn the reader's opinion of this character on its ear. Once you have these two elements, throw them on the ground at your feet, unzip your fly and take a big steamy piss on them and then go and write some boring ass shit about the most uninteresting person in existence.

Here it is: The Wicked Witch of the West is a fucking nerd. That's it. End of story. She's born and her parents are embarrassed that she's green. Then she goes to college and people are more critical of her clothes and attitude than they are about the fact that she has green fucking skin. She acts above it all yet hasn't a single interesting thought or opinion (besides the inhumanity to Animals, which I will get to later) shared with the reader. Then in her mid-twenties she joins a terrorist faction bent on deposing the Wizard. This is where it seemed to get interesting, but right before it does it fast-forwards a decade and she's in her thirties and she's fucking boring again.

Without going into too much detail, at this point she goes on this contrived journey to apologize to someone she wronged in her revolutionary phase, but ends up owning their castle because they get kidnapped. I could explain this better, but I hated this part of the book so much that just thinking about it again will probably make my nose bleed.

Ok, she has a castle (with flying monkeys at this point, although to the author's credit, he does explain this one), then the horrible tornado happens and drops a house on her sister, who incidentally ruled Munchkinland. But get this, she doesn't even like her sister. Whoa, what a twist. I can just hear people in book club meetings now, "Man, the movie totally made you think she was mad about Dorothy killing her sister."

So, she gets involved in trying to get her sister's shoes back from Dorothy because the Munchkins viewed the shoes as an icon of her rule and the Witch didn't want the Wizard to have them and thusly be able to control Munchkinland (good plot point). Then, after the Wizard sends Dorothy off to kill the Witch without taking the shoes, she even admits she's confused as to why she's still after Dorothy (really bad plot point). I'm not even going to touch on how much everything that happens in this time frame contradicts the movie. I suppose it's too hard to actually show interesting but overlooked facets of a old and much loved story (zing!).

On the upside, there was an interesting sub-story that ran throughout the book (kinda). Apparently in Oz, there are animals (like the ones we know), and there are Animals, the kind that can walk and talk, like the cowardly lion from the movie. In the book the Wizard had begun a sort of retraction of Animal's rights and tried to relegate them to the fields as beast of burden, like their kin, the (lowercase) animals. This was the reason the Witch joined the terrorist force against the Wizard. Also, the reason this sub-story couldn't save my opinion of this book is because it seemed to last about as long as this paragraph.

In summation, this book was written for goth kids who are enamored with the thought that although they are ostracized because they lack any social skills, they are so much deeper and their misplaced convictions are so much stronger than anyone around them.


Category: Media Reviews
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2005 @ 04:31 pm
Posted By Brent

When I was thirteen years old, my Mom dropped me off, alone, at the Galleria one afternoon to catch a matinee of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The reasons that led up to me being all alone for this should be blatantly obvious, but I was determined to see this movie none the less. Yes, I realize that thirteen was probably a bit old for that franchise, especially it's movie/cartoon incarnations, but I was there, popcorn in lap, ready to feed my young eyes with visions of anthropomorphic reptiles wielding nunchakus and eating pizza while tossing late 80's cliches around with their hip Cali-surfer accents. I suppose being a casual fan of the television cartoon is partially what brought me there, but what really sparked my curiosity was wondering how the creators would be able to transition something that relied so much on being a goofy cartoon into an actual live action film.

It was a similar curiosity that excited me about Casshern. Being a Japanese Sci-Fi movie, which is traditionally made as an animated feature, the creators decided to make it a live action film but retain the stylistic and visual trademarks of a Japanese Anime film (you can view the trailer here). I mean, how do you film somebody karate chopping a 8 foot robot in fucking half without making it look ridiculous? This aspect alone was enough to order it from RedSun DVD, which instead of doing I talked a friend into doing and just borrowed it from him. No offense to him, but I'm quite glad I did.

To their credit, they pulled off the look and feel remarkably, but was the story was way too convoluted to be reading in subtitles. Not to mention that the twists and turns in the plot seemed to be there just so the film didn't appear to be resting all its weight on its visuals. In speaking to Scott, I guess I do see a history of horribly complicated plots in traditional anime movies, so maybe I'm just being hard on the film because I'm a round-eye who won't ever get to enjoy it in its native tongue and native context, but who knows.

I'd have to say that the action sequences alone are enough reason to watch this movie. In fact, I'd almost suggest reading a spoiler-ridden explanation of the plot and then just watch the fight scenes. I know how that sounds, it's just that the story moves so slow it might actually be going backwards in parts.


Category: Media Reviews
Tuesday, April 5th, 2005 @ 10:16 am
Posted By Brent

I realize that for people more concerned with contemporary media reviews this is about 20 years late, but I recently read The Watchmen, a graphic novel (the name pretentious people give to "big comic books") published across 12 issues in the mid to late eighties. I've never really been big into comic books outside of the casual admiration of Wolverine and keeping up to date on general trivia such as Superman's real name, but I've consistently heard that The Watchmen is a sort of seminal publication as far as the modern comic story is concerned, and even considered ground breaking by today's standards in its use of visual imagery.

The story takes place in a fictional America in which the superhero comicbook boom of the forties and fifties inspired people to start dressing up in superhero suits and running around trying to solve crimes. It's set in present day (which would be the eighties, when it was written) and covers, through the use of extremely well executed flashbacks, the past forty or so years of superhero activity.

That, in and of itself, doesn't sound so amazing, but what's really interesting is how it shows you how egotistical, perverted, or just plain fucking nuts a person has to be to dress up in spandex and try to fight crime; all in a sort of "what if this really happened" kind of way. It covers how everything from McCarthyism to the Cold War effected this sort of activity up and till the eventual federal legislation gets passed in order to ban this type of behavior out of fear for the public's safety.

This is all told in, like I said earlier, an extremely well executed flashback style in which the artist does an amazing job of visually triggering flashbacks, and the subtle use of repeating imagery begins to make the entire back story come together for the reader. I'm really not a comic book guy, but even I have to admit this is done really well.

Of course there's an actual story unfolding during which all of this gets explained, but it's easy to just get lost in the crazy universe the author has created and not pay too much attention to what's going on until the end when the story comes to its climactic resolution.

I'd definitely give it a thumbs up, but I had one issue that was kind of hard to get past: with possible of exception of Rorschach, everyone's costume is extremely dated now. Of course, I could be wrong, the creators may have made them look this way to point out the absurdity of grown men dressing up in costumes, but seeming as this was published around the same time Marvel thought that Wolverine would look really cool in yellow and blue spandex with a mask that sat up 18 inches off his head, I seriously doubt it. Again, I'm no comic encyclopedia, this is just a layman's opinion.

Also, when I ordered it, I went looking around the web for info on it and stumbled into news stories talking about how a movie is currently being cast for it. I got really excited until, after a little more research, I read that various studios have been trying to make a movie out of this since its publication. I've also read that Alan Moore, the author, wants nothing to do with a movie adaptation after seeing what Hollywood did with League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, one of his other creations. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.


Category: Media Reviews
Tuesday, March 8th, 2005 @ 09:43 pm
Posted By xerxes7
Short and sweet.

I was looking for information about how that crazy Burger King commercial came together and I found this very informative article. It includes an interesting quote.

"Even fans of Darius aren't liking the spot."

Wow. I didn't know that there were people who really really liked those guys enough back then to hang on to that love now.

I was wrong.


Category: Media Reviews
Monday, February 7th, 2005 @ 09:59 am
Posted By Brent

If you're ever sitting around your house thinking, "I'm really in the mood for a movie that I will later describe as one of the best movies I've ever seen," then by all means, be sure to pick up City of God. It's a gritty, arty, poetic, and definately uber-violent look at the slums that the poor people of Rio de Janeiro are hidden from the tourists in. There's very little to say about this movie that hasn't already been more eloquently stated by The Filthy Critic, but his rundown kind of outlines the entire plot, so if you like to learn about a story as it unfolds, I would probably nix the idea of reading his review.

Anyway, Saturday night Pete and Christine came over, and after SNL was over we decided to pop this flick in. Fastforward to 2am, a time when any reasonable woman with as bad a case of the preggers as Christine has, should be at home in bed, but not a single one of us could tear ourselves away.

Anywho, since getting the NetFlix account, I was wanting to just have sort of condensed "movie review dumps" like my last one, but this movie seemed to merit its own post.


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