Ready Player One

April 9, 2018

It was cute, it was funny. I kind of didn’t want to see it but it turned out fine. It’s a conventional heroic narrative, which made it almost seem quaint? I think all the changes made from the book are good ones done for good reasons, but then I thought the book was facile.

What did drive me utterly gonzo insane was the Manic Pixie Dream Gamer Girl. When Samantha shoves Wade out, telling him he’s their only hope, while she stays behind to get caught, I’m all WHY?! At this point they’ve each figured out a clue to win a key, they’re equally well-equipped to complete the quest, so why is he their only hope? Because he’s the hero and she’s the girlfriend, that’s why.

Also, it bothered me that the Iron Giant was used as a warbot. Just wasn’t right.

The best change I thought was expanding the references beyond “we’re all obsessed with the 80’s” to “we’re all obsessed with the things Halliday was obsessed with” which makes more sense story-wise and expands the available material. The Shining quest was hilarious. And my favorite call-out in the entire thing was the ship from the George Pal War of the Worlds, complete with the creepiest sound effect of all time.

My second favorite was “I choose Gundam.” YES.

 

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Well, today I’m celebrating by coming down with a cold. And it’s snowing. Was in the 60’s yesterday. I should nap.

In the meantime, my latest movie review is in this month’s Lightspeed — I analyze Downsizing, a movie that pretty much nobody saw. I’m hoping to get to Ready Player One this weekend. I’m not particularly looking forward to it, oddly enough. My mistrust of nostalgia runs deep on this one.

Over on Wild Cards World, I write about That Time My Brother and I Did Wild Cards Cosplay but Couldn’t Leave the House. And can I just say that I’m so pleased to be getting back to cosplay, even just a little?

Ugh. Tea and naps.

 

Pacific Rim: Uprising

March 26, 2018

Well that was a heck of a lot of fun. It pushed a whole bunch of my buttons — the small military squad coming together for heroics, the awkward cadets who have to take over, the scrappy uber-competent teenage girl hero —

If you’re looking for something that’s exactly like the first one, with all the same characters and the same story beats, you won’t get it. But you know how the first one was a bunch of 1980’s anime tropes perfectly translated to live action? This is a bunch of different 1980’s anime tropes perfectly translated to live action. Sort of like the third season of Robotech v. the first.

But it was so much fun.

My prediction that all the jaegers would come together to form one giant jaeger did not happen.

At least, not exactly.

 

Star Wars in Concert

March 23, 2018

Last night I went to see Star Wars with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and it was a lot of fun. First, I love live symphony music. Second, the Star Wars soundtrack is one of the greatest of all time. The both together? Excellent.

Watching the symphony play the soundtrack live with the movie, I notice things I wouldn’t otherwise. Like, the woodwinds play a big part. (Listening, I always thought it was strings and horns?) And also the silences. Places where there’s no soundtrack at all:  a big chunk of the Battle of Yavin has no music. Darth Vader and Obi-Wan’s duel? No music. The music starts again at the emotional beats:  the moment Obi-Wan turns his lightsaber away in the duel. The death of Red Leader in the battle.

The whole soundtrack is great, but when you hear the music in concert, played as concert music, you’re only going to hear the set pieces:  the opening titles, the Imperial March, etc. But seeing it with the film? You get to hear the whole thing.

A couple of years ago I went to see and hear when the symphony did Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the thing I noticed on that one is the Ark’s theme: it has its own theme that gets played when people talk about it, when Indy discovers the next clue on the quest, etc. And it builds. The first time we hear it it’s just one flute. Then flute and clarinet. Then all the woodwinds. Then the strings. So that by the time we get to the climactic Nazi reveal ceremony and all the terribleness, it’s the entire orchestra and the audience has been musically primed for the emotional build the whole film.

It’s great.

Next, I decided I’d really, really love to see “2001: A Space Odyssey” with a live symphony and chorus.

 

Couple of announcements:  My Black Panther review is live on Lightspeed, along with a review by Violet Allen. A two-fer!

Reminder that tonight at 7 pm MT I’m doing a live Google Hangouts, with a reading and Q&A, so stop on by and ask questions.  Here’s the channel.

And I saw A Wrinkle in Time.  It’s. . .not very good.  I’m not sure I’ve ever been this sad that a movie is not very good. Like, I usually get angry. But this one, I’m just sad. I’m probably not being fair the film — I have a feeling it’s going to change some 10 year old’s life because it’s going to be the exact thing they need to see at the right time. But that’s part of the problem — it feels like it’s aimed at 10 year olds.

To be brief, there’s way too much exposition, the pacing is off, the plot is disconnected, and the emotional core just wasn’t there. It’s very pretty, at least.

 

escapism

March 5, 2018

Saw Black Panther again because my friends and I have decided that we like Wakanda better than reality. This time I really liked the blanket shields, and how important of a lesson it is to always make friends with your boyfriend’s battle rhino. I also noticed that Agent Ross is wearing a wedding band? Why do I notice these things? Sheesh.

Over the weekend I also completely binge-read not one but two novels with really happy endings. I’m thinking about what I would like to see in a romance novel, if I were going to write one. I haven’t read a ton of romance but I do have opinions.

Like I don’t have enough projects on my plate right now.

This may be the first and quite possibly the last time a movie I wrote a formal review for wins the Best Picture Oscar. See my review of The Shape of Water on Lightspeed.

This month’s issue of Lightspeed has my review of Black Panther.

And if that wasn’t enough I went back and watched Avengers last night. The first one.  That world has gotten so huge and big and complex that it’s a real trip going back and watching the start of it all. It’s very earnest, and there’s a sense that they hadn’t quite opened the throttle on it yet. They were happy just to get all the balls in the air and flowing smoothly. That first Avengers was juggling so much. And now, they’ve gone from juggling like 5 balls to juggling 12, and it looks just as smooth as it ever did.

There really isn’t enough escapism in the world for me right now. Which makes it all the more fortunate that I have the job I do. I’m just going to be over here thinking of stories and happy endings, thank you very much.

 

Annihilation

February 28, 2018

Just a quick word on the film for thems what’s interested or are trying to decide about seeing it. It’s based on the Nebula-award winning novel by Jeff VanderMeer, which I have read.

The movie is very different. And it frustrated me.  A lot. Mostly because of its reliance on standard horror tropes which made it predictable, and the way in which it seemed to insist on making things concrete, when the book is very much rooted in ambiguity, impermanence, permeable boundaries, etc.  Like, the characters in the movie all have names, which really annoyed me.

I think if I hadn’t read the book first I would have had a very different experience watching it.

More, when I do my long review for Lightspeed.