Monday, February 25, 2008

Quick Impressions of things I've Experienced Recently

Partly because I don't want the most recent blog entry to be political jibber jabber, and partly because I have a real backlog of halfway finished entries on my movie blog, I have decided to put some quick little reviews of things I have watched or read recently right here in this space. There is a nice mix of comics, movies, a CD and a novel in here.

Annihilation and Annihilation : Conquest - I read these comics thanks to the strong and consistently positive word of mouth. Well, the word of mouth is only partly right. The Annihilation story is divided into three separate books, only the last of which is interesting. Right now, I believe the Annihilation : Conquest story will be divided into two books, and, so far, the Annihilation : Conquest series is better than the first Annihilation series. The first part of Annihilation reads like bad DC books - basically the comic a big inside joke because there is zero characterization coupled with an expectation that you will study all of the attached encyclopedia entries simply to understand the comic you just finished reading. The comics get better as the story goes along with good characterization and a decent plot combined, but the first two books of Annihilation are practically unreadable. Unless, of course, you find encyclopedia entries a good substitute for storytelling. In that case, have at it.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Dorian Wright said out of the twelve combined seasons of Buffy and Angel, only about four were good. I'm halfway through Season 5 of Buffy and Season 2 of Angel, and I'm tending to agree with him.

Doom Patrol - Never read this until now. Been told I just had had had to read this for years, but I am very hit-or-miss with Grant Morrison. However, this comic series has totally knocked my socks off. Just finished Book 3 of his run and am halfway through Book 4. This is some really amazing stuff in here, on a conceptual level, a design level, and a storytelling level. I would love to read the scripts of these books because some of the drawings are so insane, you have to wonder how they were described.

The Descent - Would I watch it again? Probably not. Would I own it? Not really. But I thought it was a decent enough movie with a good story and good acting (as much as screaming and being eaten by cave monsters counts as acting). Just perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon in front of the television.

The Host - This one suffered from over-hype for me. It is a lazy Saturday afternoon film about a giant gila monster that eats people, not an art film or a political film or a dysfunctional family dramedy or any of those other things it was pitched to me as. When the most compelling scenes in the film involve a giant lizard thing swinging through the air by its tail, it is not an art film. In this sense, The Descent is much better because it doesn't think of itself as a grand statement of anything - it is about underground cave creatures eating people.

Heima - Maybe this was a little over-hyped by me. Basically, it is a concert film of Sigur Ros doing Takk in Iceland. Some pretty Icelandic countryside and, of course, the music. But the band interviews don't knock me out as much as I thought they would. It is very pretty to watch, though.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang - This definitely had the potential to suffer from over-hype, but it turned out to be a very real pleasant surprise. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like it. I like films that win me over when I come to them with my crabby barrel of prejudices. For example, I don't like crime films. Or meta films. Or Val Kilmer. And, despite being confronted with a meta-crime film, starring Val Kilmer, I had a genuinely great time. Translated, this means means that I loved the movie. Even when Robert Downey Jr loses a finger, gets it reattached, and loses it again. If the tone is off just the tiniest bit, the moment would be absolutely ruined. But it works out beautifully.

100 Days, 100 Nights - I did not know that this was a two-disc album. The second disc is a live(?) recording of "The Ghetto Funk Power Hour." This is a really fun album and I just about love Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings.

Porgy and Bess - I was surprised I knew more about this story than my opera-loving wife, but the Dallas Opera production is really worth the ticket price. Very pleased with it overall, even though after three-and-a-half hours in those uncomfortable Fair Park Music Hall seats made my butt feel nine kinds of numb.

Soon I Will Be Invincible - Technically, I'm only halfway through this book, so it might get better. But my issue with it so far is that if you are writing a super hero story as a novel, you need to make it something special. I understand paying tribute to the genre, but if all you do is a paint-by-numbers genre piece, your story isn't special anymore. As it reads now, comic books like Astro City blow it out of the water.


Cyber D said...

When you long for decent fantasy and sci-fi fiction programing every season of Buffy rocks! But tis true, some are better than others. I can't remember if season 5 is the season with the musical episode. If you haven't seen it yet... it's pretty damn good.

M. Robert Turnage said...

I haven't gotten to the musical episode yet. Right now, it is a bunch of "mom is in the hospital with brain cancer and I suddenly have a kid sister" episodes.

I really liked the back half of Season 2 and about half of Season 3 and about half of Season 4. I haven't found an Angel episode that has knocked my socks off yet.