Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review—The Feaster From Afar

A few weeks ago, I wrote about blobs for a Monster Day post, and in said post I mentioned in the Recommended Reading list a short story called "Slime," by Joseph Payne Brennan. I'd read the story in an old anthology decades ago, likely something I borrowed from the Bookmobile or the elementary school library, and I'd long since forgotten the name of the anthology. But, obviously, I hadn't forgotten the name of the story itself.

In the decades since, I've become quite the afficionodo of weird fiction, but for some reason, I've managed to get this far having read only one or two of Joseph Payne Brennan's stories. The blob post reminded me of him, and I sought out collections of his works to buy. But I was vexed by the fact that there weren't many nice, hardcover copies in print. There were a few out of print books that looked great (including an Arkham House edition of one that'll be reviewed here soon), but none of them contained "Slime."

Except for one—The Feaster From Afar.

It's fun reading well-selected anthologies of short fiction by single authors, because you can spot themes in their writing. Joseph Payne Brennan often writes in these stories of desolation and forgotten things; of ancient neighborhoods being torn down and replaced by soulless modern architecture, of lichen-encrusted hills and foul swamplands, and of course of weirder things. Vengeful corpses. Space Vampires. Carnivorous Slugs. Great Old Ones. And, of course, Slime. In fact, here's a list of the monsters and fiends and horrors to be found in this anthology:

Carnivorous slimes, undead hulking corpses, drowned dead, witch-cursed devolved humans, ancient elementals, minions of the Great Old Ones, infernal shades and specters, aberrant horrors from other dimensions, vengeful revenants, primeval masses of woodlands-haunting tentacles, swarming man-eating slugs, memory eating vampires from the dawn of time and space, planet-ending hordes of radioactive mutant rats, what lies beyond the edge of the universe, demons wearing ancestors as shells, lonely ghosts, Hastur, blood-drinking plants, graverobbers, squamous horrors below old graveyards, spirit snatching demons, cursed voodoo dolls, and vengeful mummies.

Joseph Payne Brennan
So, yeah. Pretty awesome book. My favorite five stories? Vampires from the Void, The Feaster From Afar, The Business about Fred, The Gulf of Night, and of course Slime.

The Feaster From Afar...
  • ... combines the classic pulpy Lovecraftian themes from the mid 20s with the best of the 50s science fiction movies.
  • ... is filled to the rim with great ideas for plots for Call of Cthulhu games.
  • ... bears the words "The Selected Weird Tales Volume One," yet it appears that the next volume(s) are dead in the water. Sadness!
Grade: A+

Monster #15—Mothman

The majority of my early childhood exposure to monsters and horror came at my grandparents house. Both my grandfather and grandmother on my father's side were prodigious readers. My grandpa had several stacks of horror comics, like "House of Mystery" and "Tales of the Unexpected," while my grandmother kept me well supplied with reading material—she gave me Cujo to read at the ripe age of about 9 or 10, and a year or two later gave me some Clive Barker books. It was in my grandparent's reading room that I first discovered F. Paul Wilson, Dean Koontz, and many others.

Including mothman.

The book was The Mothman Prophecies, by John A. Keel. The copy I found in my grandma's collection had what looked like a photo of a scary flying red-eyed monster on the cover, and proclaimed in bold red letters: "COMPELLING AND GENUINELY FRIGHTENING!" How could I resist that?

Turns out, those letters are right.

The Mothman Prophecies doesn't read like a horror novel; it's presented as a collection of case studies and interviews and investigations performed by John A. Keel, exploring the mysterious sightings of a red-eyed monster that was haunting the region around Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The book went on to link Mothman to shadowy government conspiracies, the men in black, UFOs, and of course the collapse of the Silver Bridge.

When X-files finally came along, it already felt familiar to me as a result, because this book was very much a proto-X-files. And mothman's been creeping around in the back of my mind for the past 30 years or so as well.

I wish my hometown had a mothman statue.
Reccomended Reading
 Recommended Viewing

Friday, May 24, 2013

Movie Review—The Awakening

OBSERVATION: Between 1914 and 1919 war and influenza have claimed more than a million lives in Britain alone.

CONCLUSION: This is a time for ghosts.

So claims the opening scene of The Awakening, in the form of plain white text on a grainy black background while low, ominous music builds. It's a powerful way to start a movie, and for the first 60 minutes or so, the movie keeps that power in a slow burn buildup of tension and creepiness. The plot centers on a woman named Florence Cathcart, a woman desperate to find proof of the afterlife and ghosts in order to take the edge off of some of her own personal losses, yet in investigation after investigation she reveals so-called hauntings to be misunderstandings or hoaxes. She's called upon to investigate a possible haunting at a boarding school that may just have resulted in a student's death, and so begins a classic plotline that would fit well in any era.

But by setting the movie in the direct shadow of World War I in 1921 Britain, the movie becomes something more—it seems infected with the hopelessness and despair that must have gripped the world after a decade of some of the most horrifying mass deaths modern civilization has ever endured. Indeed... if any time is a time for ghosts, it is after the planet's been seized by war and disease for nearly a decade.

Unfortunately, the movie can't keep its momentum going. I've come to really appreciate ghost movies these days that simply tell a spooky tale that unfolds gradually, allowing us to learn the mysterious and macabre background that caused the haunting as the film progresses... WITHOUT feeling the need to add in a third-act surprise that turns everything that's come before into something else entirely. I blame The Sixth Sense, of course, for the popularity of this type of movie. For a while, I was hoping that The Awakening would be something more like The Innkeepers or The Devil's Backbone, but no... it couldn't resist the twist ending.
Yeah. Old timey ghost photos. The easiest way to creep me out.

And no... Comparing it to the Sixth Sense doesn't reveal the surprise twist—it's actually a pretty creative twist, but it wasn't NEAR enough to live up to the film's opening thesis. Still... pretty creepy ride getting there, and once the surprise was out in the open, I was able to continue enjoying the movie... just not at the same level as I had when it started.

The Awakening...
  • ... loses sight of its intriguing story in its attempt to provide a twist ending.
  • ... is never not spooky to look at, even when there's nothing particularly supernatural going on.
  • ... actually has a second twist to the storyline once the primary twist is revealed; this second one is a lot more spooky and disturbing, and I kind of wish they'd just abandoned the first twist and kept the second one.
  • ... gets a lot of mileage out of its time period and setting. It's rare to see a horror movie take place in a non-contemporary setting, it seems.
Grade: B+

Movie Review—Fast & Furious 6

These Fast & Furious movies are an example of a movie knowing exactly how to do what it needs to do to work. They're over the top, loud, and filled with tough guys and tough gals and fast cars and improbable stunts, and of late they've added a new element to the mix–the "during the end credits super plot twist to set up the next movie."

I won't lie. I enjoy these movies. But I'll be the first to admit they're illogical, ridiculous, and ludicrous.

But they also have a surprising amount of continuity between movies, even if it didn't seem that way to begin with. The fact that they're up to part 6 is, perhaps the most ludicrous part of it all, and damn if that final teaser at the end of the movie a minute after the credits began to roll doesn't have me eagerly anticipating the next one more than any that have come before. Adding Dwayne Johnson to the franchise was a stroke of genius... but they may have outdone themselves with who's on board to be the villain for the next one!

This is, in a nutshell, what the Fast & Furious movies are all about.

Fast & Furious 6...
  • ... has fewer explosions than Star Trek Into Darkness. Which is also kind of ridiculous.
  • ... had me waiting for the surprise cameo the entire movie—if you don't know who it is, don't seek out the information, because you'll spend the entire time wondering if you risk going to the bathroom to miss the introduction of the character.
  • ... had a trailer for the new Riddick movie in front of it, which paid for the trip to the movie in and of itself.
  • ... doesn't have time to mourn the loss of countless tank-crushed drivers.
  • ... has a lot more cars being used as anchors than I've seen recently—none of which are used to anchor boats, because that's boring.
Grade: B

Movie Review—Star Trek Into Darkness

Now I think I have a better idea what folks were objecting to in Prometheus. And that objection has a name: Damon Lindelof. He was one of the writers for both Prometheus and Star Trek Into Darkness, and while I'm a huge fan of Star Trek, that fandom pales in comparison to Alien. As such, I was able to put up with more plot holes and problems in Prometheus than I could here. Now... I'm not saying that Damon Lindelof is without a doubt the reason why I didn't like Star Trek Into Darkness... actually, wait. I think that's exactly what I'm saying.

I was willing to let go of all my preconceived notions about Star Trek and established canon. After all, the previous movie made it pretty clear that J. J. Abrams is going in some new directions with the series, and he did a great job with that movie, I thought. And the cast is more or less spot on perfect for their roles—Chekov was a bit underused and forgettable, but everyone else had at least one great scene. Zachary Quinto as Spock is probably my favorite role, but Zoe Saldana as Uhura is pretty awesome too.

The effects are incredible. The villain is memorable. The acting is great. The explosions blow up real good. The writing, though... there's a number of unfortunate plot holes in here, as well as some unexplained goofiness. It's a well-done action movie, but I think that's the crux of my problem. The Star Trek stories that I feel are the strongest, be they movies or the shows, are the ones where they embrace character growth or tackle actual science fiction plots. Preferably both.
Why can't I get that "Bilbo Baggins" song Leonard sang out of my head?

Star Trek Into Darkness doesn't have much time for sci-fi—nor does it have a lot of time for new character growth... mostly because what it DOES have it more or less borrows liberally from a previous Star Trek movie.

I'm eager for the series to continue under J. J. Abrams' direction, but only if it goes somewhere new... soemwhere no director has gone before. At least, in the canon of Star Trek plots.

Star Trek Into Darkness...
  • ... has a monster in it. Not in a big part, but looking at all my favorite Star Trek episodes and movies... they almost all have monsters or killer robots in them.
  • ... has a pretty big reveal in it that the trailers have teased but haven't revealed. Somehow I managed to go 5 days without having the reveal spoiled, and I was pretty delighted with it as a result.
  • ... also seems like it gives away a big scene in the trailers, but for me at least, it only misdirected my expectations, which ALSO delighted me.
  • ... thinks it knows about the Prime Directive, but doesn't really.
  • ... frustrated me with how little the transporters were used, and how often the movie had to invent reasons for them not to work. It was like how horror movies have to invent reasons for cell phones not to work. The best horror movies know that they should find ways to let those phones work but STILL put their characters into peril. Hopefully future Star Trek movies figure out how to let the transporters work while still having a plot.
  • ... is, despite my disappointment, still one of the better Star Trek movies. It's easy to forget how many of them are really really terrible.
Grade: C+

Movie Review—VHS 2

This is a weird year for me and the Seattle International Film Festival. Normally, there's about 15 to 20 movies I want to see, and I know I won't have time to see that many, so I'll pare it down to 6 to 10 movies and still end up having to miss at least one for some reason, because the festival always seems to time itself for the Gen Con rush and Paizocon, and deadlines wait for no film festival.

So I was pretty excited this year that our Gen Con rush hit a month early, and when Paizocon was a month later than I expected it to be, because that more or less left me with a pretty open schedule to see movies at SIFF.

And then, the schedule came out, and something strange happened. There was only one movie I really wanted to see. It was the least interesting SIFF I've seen. Usually there were a lot of cool horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and action movies to choose from, and then in wading through those options I'd find other cool movies outside of my favorite genres to see as well. This year... no luck.

I saw the first VHS last year at SIFF and was quite delighted; it was my favorite movie of the festival. This year, I saw VHS2, and it was my favorite movie of the festival THIS year. And not only because it's the only movie I'll be seeing at SIFF. It's actually as good as the original. Better in some ways, worse in others, but overall a delightful entry in the found footage category.

As with the first one, the framing story has some investigators discovering a strange situation in an apparently abandoned home revolving around a creepy stack of VHS tapes, and it's the contents of those tapes that make the movie. It's a found-footage anthology movie, and one thing that always seems to happen with anthology movies is that there's one good or really good segment, but the others are varying degrees of mediocre or outright bad. Creepshow dodged this problem, and so did both VHS movies.
Sometimes you can tell when a scene in a movie is about to get pretty violent.

Whereas the 1st one had 5 shorts, this one only has 4, but each one is better than the worst one from VHS. Here, we've got victims dealing with a state-of-the-art cybernetic eye that lets you see more than you probably should or certainly want to see, a mountain biker out on a trail eager to try out his new cameras and who rides smack into the midst of a zombie apocalypse, a team of documentary filmmakers investigating a creepy cult compound on what's destined to be the most important day in said cult's history, and a group of kids fooling around while the parents are out of town but a singularly spooky set of visitors from far, far away happen to be IN town.

I liked the third one the best—the idea of having a film crew on-site when a cult prepares for the end of days and things suddenly spiral out of control is in and of itself fascinating... especially when it turns out the cult leader might actually be on to something!

  • ... never quite equals the greatness of the first film of the first movie, but it's good all the way through.
  • ... does some things with the zombie movie genre I've not yet seen done before, and that kind of surprised me in a pleasant way.
  • ... isn't the goriest or most violent found-footage movie I've seen (that award ties for Cannibal Holocaust and Cannibal Ferox), but it's a lot more entertaining than the goriest or most violent found-footage movie I've seen.
  • ... has me ready to see VHS 3 next year at SIFF. Hopefully I'll be seeing more than that though!
Grade: A

Movie Review—Iron Man 3

The first Iron Man movie was an unexpected surprise for me, because I had pretty much no expectations going in. The second one, as a result of how much I enjoyed the first one, was an unexpected disappointment, due to a combination of a mediocre script and my high expectations.

Both of these movies worked together to prime things perfectly for Iron Man 3. I didn't have particularly high expectations, and the movie wasn't nearly as good as the first one but it was better than the second one. The two best parts of the movie are Robert Downey Jr., who really means it when he says "I am Iron Man." He's pretty much perfection in the role. The other best part is Gwyneth Paltrow, who gives the movie a bit of class while also getting a chance to be a superheroine herself. Strike that; there are three good parts. The third one is Ben Kinglsey. But he's always fun to watch. Even if he's in the worst movie of the year. It's happened before. Let's hope it never does again.

Overall... a fun movie! But not for the special effects, really, as well-done as they are. It's a fun-to-watch action movie for the dialogue. Weird.
Of all the unexpected technologies in the movie, the fact that Tony Stark found a pay phone ranks up there pretty high.

Iron Man 3...
  • ... has a stinger after the credits finish. It's not setting up anything new, as did all the pre-Avengers Marvel movies, but it's fun nonetheless.
  • ... has a pretty crippling plot hole. If you've seen the movie, you know the ace in the sleeve that Iron Man reveals in the final act... an ace that he could have played at any time during the movie but he didn't because then the plot wouldn't work.
  • ... has some great ties to Avengers. Nothing direct, but let's just say that even Tony Stark can't look in the eye of things that make deities frightened and not come out unscathed.
  • ... makes a pretty significant change from the comics to a major character. I've never read the comics, but I was still looking forward to seeing this character on screen, and when said character ended up being pretty different I was a little disappointed. But in and of itself, within the movie on its own, it's a pretty cool plot twist.
 Grade: B

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Monster #14—Parasites

I know, I know... Parasites are monsters already. Want proof? Go google images of bot flies, guinea worms, warbles, and... actually, don't google those at all. Trust me. You don't want to see that stuff.

This post isn't about real-world parasites. Those are too frightening. This post is about monster parasites from film and fiction. These critters are horrifying and disgusting and vile, but when the movie is over and the book is done, you can breathe easy, knowing it was all fiction. Right?

In fact, now that I think on it, my two favorite movies are about parasites. In Alien, you've got a creature that has a complex five or six stage life cycle that uses another living creature as a host to transition from its second and third parasitic stages into its fourth and most violent stage. And in John Carpenter's The Thing you have a creature who's every single cell is its own creature, a parasite that invades any living thing, feeds on it, and then becomes it.

Hmm. This is kinda suddenly exploding into a huge new category, the more I think about it. I mean... there were the freaky insectoid lice creatures that infested the body of the monster in Cloverfield, the supernatural demonic entity of the Rec movies, the slithery worms in Slither and the creepy worms in Night of the Creeps, the critter from Wrath of Khan, and of course the eponymous parasite of the movie Parasite (AKA Demi Moore's first movie). Which, as you can see below, has an incredibly awesome trailer.
At least it's not a guinea worm!

Actually... I'm gonna stop here and just start the reccomended viewing and reading lists. There's a lot. I'm sure I'll forget some. But the following should keep you squirming for a while.

Recommended Reading

Recommended Viewing

Double Sized Book Review—We Live Inside You / Angel Dust Apocalypse

Know what's fun? Finding a new author who knocks you out of your seat with the raw power of his storytelling craft.

I stumbled across Jeremy Robert Johnson's We Live Inside You on by accident, but with a title like that I couldn't not investigate more closely. I bought the kindle version of the book while my intrigue was still running high, and less than a minute later was reading about a man who got infested with a creepy parasite hivemind that not only took over his body but, increasingly, took over his entire personality. Even the tone of the story shifted in tone as the narrator became more and more proud of the fact that he was no longer merely a meat body but thousands of bodies. His joy in being able to share this bliss with the rest of the world, starting with the occupants of a movie theater who unknowingly began breathing in his microscopic airborne larvae, was really really really unsettling.

There's actually several stories about creepy parasites in the book. My favorite, hands down, was not the aforementioned "When Sussurus Stirs" but in fact the incredible "Cathedral Mother," in which a woman, driven to the extremes of eco-terrorisim in her pursuit of preserving the old growth redwoods of Northern California, stumbles upon a parasitic danger high in the canopies of the very trees she's trying to save.

Not all the stories in We Live Inside You are about parasites, though. There's actually a wide range of stories in here—stories about the end of the world caused by a devastating chant, of ghostly vengeance from beyond the grave, of strange drugs and stranger cults, gritty noir dramas and CDC horror stories, patricide, dead kids, and so much more.

By the time I finished, I was eager for more, and so I zipped back online and a few moments later, Angel Dust Apocalypse was on my kindle. More parasite stories awaited within this book, much to my delight, along with stories about the apocalypse itself that were both sublmine and over the top. You've got a story about a man making a suit out of cockroaches in order to survive in a radioactive wasteland. Or a story about a society where body modification is more than just mainstream, it's the route to fame. Or a story about a bitter young man who hates having to take care of his mentally challenged younger brother. Or how one woman reacts to the news that her husband may have been decapitated in a car crash and she needs to drive north to ID the body by a tattoo. Or of a particularly horrific Native American curse. Or a story that starts off with: "You could bite Todd's nose off."

The stories are raw, visceral, grisly when needed, and powerful. Jeremy Robert Johnson's the type of author who can set you on edge merely with his titles—especially once you're familiar with his writing style. I had to pause in dread and anticipation before continuing the book once I got to the story called "Priapsim," for example...

We Live Inside You / Angel Dust Apocalypse...
  • ... makes the show Monsters Inside Me feel like a Disney movie.
  • ... has a lot of really interesting behind-the-scenes stuff by the author where he talks about his writing style and techniques.
  • ... makes me glad I had a kindle, since if I hadn't, I might have not bothered buying the book.
Grade: A+ (We Live Inside You), A – (Angel Dust Apocalypse)

Book Review—The Twelve

One of the things that kind of bugs me is when I'm reading a novel that's part of a series, and I've read the previous installments of said series, but then the novelist spends too much time reminding you of what happened before, as if said novelist doesn't trust that you've read the previous stories.

That's certainly not a problem with Justin Cronin's The Twelve, the second book in his vampire apocalypse saga. I was VERY impressed with the first in the series, The Passage, and eagerly tore into this one. As with The Passage, the first significant portion of the book functions as a sort of prequel, detailing events during the events that brought about the end of the world, introducing us to several really cool characters as we follow their efforts to survive in a world where vampirisim is taking over.

The bulk of the novel, of course, takes place about 100 years after that, focusing on most of the same characters from the first novel. They're no longer naive young adults, now, though; they've had a harrowing time in their journey, and they're now pretty rough around the edges. And if anything, some of the things they go through in this one are among the more harrowing ordeals I've read recently... not because of the violent or horrifying nature of their ordeals so much as because by the time things really start going bad, you're really invested in the characters. Cronin does a great job making you care about the characters, and the way he almost casually reveals near the start of the novel that some of the previous novel's survivors have died in the time between the two novels, it's really unsettling and distressing.

And that brings me back to the start of the review. There's a spoiler-free Dramatis Personae at the back of the book... but it's SO spoiler-free that it kinda doesn't help. I really should have done what I do whenever a new Song of Ice and Fire book comes out—read up the Wikipedia pages for the previous books to get reminded about where things were at when last we left our heroes and villains behind.

The book itself, though? It's excellent. Cronin does a brilliant job at presenting the vampires as creatures of science but also creatures of supernatural mystery. In fact, the science is so prevalent near the first half of the book that as things that are more and more unexplainable by science happen, they really do feel spooky and frightening in a way they wouldn't had the vampires had blatantly supernatural powers from the very beginning.

Looking forward eagerly to the next in the series!

The Twelve...
  • ... isn't afraid to kill off characters you've come to like, nor is it afraid to bring back characters you thought were killed off!
  • ... faces the reader with some difficult truths, in that it casts sympathetic characters in the role of suicide bombers, and manages to make you understand why such tactics might be the only choice, which is kinda disturbing.
  • ... has a somewhat frustrating habit of skipping some of the more exciting action scenes and revealing what happens only after the fact, but certainly doesn't skip away from the hard to read parts about some pretty vile stuff.
  • ... raised some pretty interesting questions that I hope will be explored in the third and final book—not the least of which is what's going on beyond the USA 100 years in the future!
Grade: A –

Movie Review—Storage 24

Found footage movies aren't my only cinematic weakness. Another such vulnerability would be the good old-fashioned monster movie. These can run the gamut from incredibly excellent (such as The Host or Alien) to excellently terrible (C.H.U.D. anyone?).

Storage 24 is somewhere right down the middle. It's a pretty modest movie that starts with a bang. A serious one. I thought for a moment that I'd broken my speakers when the movie gets going! The movie itself is standard monster movie plot #1—a group of people are stranded in an enclosed location with a monster on the loose. In this case, the enclosed location is a vast storage unit facility, and the monster is a semi-humanoid semi-reptilian semi-insect all-brute creature that's actually really quite well-designed and realized on screen, with a fair amount of actual practical effects and puppetry at work. The monster even has a personality beyond RARRRRGH KILL THEM ALL and makes a few mistakes along the road to eating all humans. Or if not eating them, ripping out their hearts and then letting the poor victim watch while the monster crushes said heart in its big hand like it was an empty beer can. Can't fix that! You're done.
Not what you want to see when you open that mysterious storage locker!

Storage 24...
  • ... is what happens when you mix Super-8, Alien, and Storage Wars up in a blender.
  • ... has some REALLY refreshing developments along the lines of a certain obnoxious movie cliche. You know the one—the token minority is the first to die. Not so much the case in this movie. It's refreshing to see a horror movie avoid that cliche.
  • ... is another one of those movies I actually kinda liked that got a lower than I'd expect rating on IMDB.
  • ... makes me wonder how many people actually DO live inside their storage units.
  • ... has the standard "our cell phones don't have a signal and so we're cut off from help!" element... but there's a pretty dang good reason for it!
Grade: B+

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Movie Review—The Frankenstein Theory

It always kinda weirds me out when I see a movie that I actually quite enjoy, then head on over to IMDB for my post-viewing "would you like to know more" surfing, and then see that the movie's gotten terrible reviews. That happened recently with The Frankenstein Theory.

Now, granted, it's a found footage movie, and that means that it's super-effective against me. And on top of that... some of the acting is a bit dodgy. But some of the acting is really quite good (particularly Timothy V. Murphy as rugged local guide Karl), and the landscapes of the deep wild of northern Canada are never anything less than beautiful.

The movie itself has a pretty interesting plot—what if Frankenstein, the original story, wasn't fiction... what if it was based on a series of real-world experiments, and what if the real monster was really created and is still up there, lurking in the arctic wastes? It's a pretty cool concept. The movie even flirts with shifting from found footage over to mockumentary (an equally compelling style of movie making), but never quite decides to make that shift entirely.

In the end, there IS a lot of people walking around in the dark or the wilds continuing to film things even as they fall apart. People who don't like found footage will certainly find no shortage of things to be annoyed by in the movie. But if you like the genre, and you like movies about isolation and arctic survival, check it out!
I'll catch your Frankenstein for ya!

The Frankenstein Theory...
  • ... isn't nearly as bad as the internet thinks it is.
  • ...would have been better had it embraced the mockumentary angle instead of the found footage angle, I think.
  • ... would also have been better had Karl been in the entire movie from the start.
  • ... kinda spoils the end of the movie in the trailer, so be warned if you watch the following link! Or if you DO watch and want to avoid the spoiler, stop watching at about 1 minute and 20 seconds in. You'll get the idea for the movie by then anyway.
Grade: B –

Movie Review—Oblivion

Whew... been a busy month! With the Gen Con crunch taking over pretty much everything over the past several weeks, I've not really had a chance to see many movies or read much aside from what's gonna be published by Paizo between now and August. And then there was a week of recovery.

That said, I did see a few movies and read a few books, so I'm gonna post pretty short reviews of them so I can get all caught up!

First off? Oblivion!

This was never a boring movie to look at; the effects and the cinematography and the art design was really excellent. It doesn't hurt that I'm a sucker for postapocalyptic movies, of course... but what DID hurt were all the logic flaws and plot holes in the script (for example... if a thing can control the atmosphere in an enclosed area, why does it need to wait for flying robots to come kill intruders... why can't said thing simply turn the atmosphere back off to deal with the pesky human interlopers?), and even worse, the fact that the best parts of the movie... in fact... MOST parts of the movie... were more or less lifted from other movies.

If you've never seen a science fiction movie before, you might be blown away by Oblivion.
Huh... you're right! I can see like 11 other movies from here!

  • ... has obviously seen The Matrix, 2001, Planet of the Apes, Wall-E, Star Wars, I Am Legend, A.I., Independance Day, Lifeforce, Inception, War of the Worlds, and more. It hopes YOU haven't seen them, though!
  • ... has also obviously HEARD Inception. I wonder what movie trailers would sound like today without having had Inception's awesome and easily mimicked low bass thrums?
  • ... has some unsettling undercurrents of misogyny.
  • ... has laser weaponry that turns bit actors into ashes but only makes main characters apparently lose their breath.
  • ... is nonetheless never honestly dull, but neither is it a movie one ever needs to see more than once.
  • ... is a MUCH better video game than it is a movie.
Grade: C+