One Year Later

One year ago, I decided to track how many books, movies, TV shows, and comics that I consumed. That project has now come to a close. What have I discovered?

First, most of what I read is science fiction and fantasy. Overwhelmingly so, actually. Second, I have a tendency to binge watch on TV shows. Third, when given a choice between watching a two hour movie or four 30 minute TV episodes, I will watch the TV show because for some reason I’m daunted at spending two hours on a single leisure activity. Fourth, I read a staggering amount of comics. Last, I kind of wish I watched more movies.

Anyway, the final tally is below.

Books: 83

Movies: 56

Comic Books (including manga): 940

TV Shows: 427

And in case for some reason anyone out there is curious exactly what fiction I consumed, here’s the list I made.

Superman: Man of dickery

As was foretold by Nostradamus, someone has posted a snarky takedown of the plot holes in Man of Steel. I liked the movie okay but I admit to having low expectations. My good feelings toward the film may also be be as a reaction to the virulent antipathy one of my viewing companions had toward the portrayal of Superman. Have you ever stumbled across the online rantings of a comic book nerd railing against ridiculous minutiae? Watching the movie with this guy was like that, except I was hearing the words come out of an actual person’s mouth.

So I thought the movie was okay but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be better. It was too long, for one thing, and the climactic action spectacle was kind of turning into a mishmash of violence and camera cuts by the end.

But why read what I say, when you can read the snark over at io9?

Samples:

(on Krypton)

Jor-El: Our planet is dying. Clearly, the only solution is to shoot a baby into space.

Lara-El: It’s the only thing that makes sense anymore!

————–

Young Clark: So I’m kind of thinking I should use my powers for good, to help people and stuff.

Pa Kent: HOLY SHIT NO. You must never reveal your powers to anyone! People will figure out you’re an alien! The government will take you away? Got it? You must never help anyone ever.

Young Clark: Even if it’s a schoolbus full of children about to drown?

Pa Kent: Especially if it’s a schoolbus full of children about to drown! You just sit there, and watch them drown, one by one.

Young Clark: That doesn’t seem right.

Pa Kent: And if for some reason someone else saves the bus, IT IS UP TO YOU TO PUSH THAT BUS BACK IN THAT LAKE AND MAKE SURE THOSE CHILDREN DROWN.

Young Clark: Wait, what?

Pa Kent: YOU ARE GOING TO BE A BEACON OF HOPE WHEN YOU GROW UP, CLARK, A BEACON OF HOPE THAT WATCHES CHILDREN DIE WHEN HE COULD HAVE EASILY SAVED THEM.

Continue reading “Superman: Man of dickery”

The return of Tarantino

Did Django Unchained really have a 2h 45min running time? Because damn, I didn’t notice. In case you were wondering, that haunting Italian song in the middle of the movie was Ancora Qui by Ennio Morricone and Elisa (some Italian singer). The movie and the song are much recommended by yours truly.

Are you fit to serve? (No.)

As part of the marketing campaign for Skyfall, the new James Bond movie, Sony Entertainment has released a browser-based text adventure game which is ostensibly a test to see if the player has the right stuff to become a spy for British intelligence. The last time games of this type were popular was in the 1980’s so it’s rather nostalgic to be playing this (admittedly, I’ve only played pure text adventure games as part of my retro-gaming hipster nostalgia freakery).

Still, it’s easy to forget that computers are goddamned stupid and are nowhere near ready to take commands phrased in natural language. Case in point:

Comprehension test: FAILED

AGENT: What’s my first move?

YOU: Hold on

AGENT: We have all day.

AGENT: It’s not like we have a problem with weapons of mass destruction in a Caribbean holiday resort to figure out.

AGENT: Anything like that.

YOU: Pull both white wires out at once

AGENT: Be as clear as you can. Appreciated.

YOU: Pull the white wires

AGENT: NO. Cutting wires at random is my last option. Want others first. Don’t care if you’re an expert. You’re not HERE. Ideas. Fast.

YOU: Call the bomb squad

AGENT: Device right in front of me. Five wires and a USB port. How to handle this?

YOU: Err

AGENT: Keep it simple. Say again.

TIME PENALTY: FIRST WARNING

YOU: Throw it into the river

AGENT: We’ve got the bomb. It’s even nastier in the flesh. Check the photo I sent and then advise me on how to proceed.

YOU: Plug the tablet into the USB port

AGENT: I can try plugging the tablet in. One second.

AGENT: Interesting. It’s displaying … hang on, I’ll transfer an image.

YOU: You need to pull out the white wires

AGENT: Explain your plan first. I’m not starting cutting until I know where we’re going with this.

YOU: The white wires are the main ones

AGENT: So you mean … actually, what do you mean?

YOU: THE WHITE ONES ARE IMPORTANT. CUT THEM

AGENT: No savvy. Re-state?

YOU: Cut the white wires NOW

AGENT: If you think you’ve figured out the image, tell me what you think it means. Then I’ll start cutting.

YOU: It means that all the coloured wires lead to the white one

AGENT: Not sure I understand. Put that another way?

YOU: The white one is the important wire

AGENT: Be as clear as you can. Appreciated.

YOU: The white wires power the bomb

AGENT: Put that another way? Sorry.

YOU: The colored wires aren’t important

AGENT: You’re right. The colours in the picture do match the wires. What do you think we should do?

YOU: Cut the white wires

AGENT: Sounds like you’ve got a plan. Spell it out. Don’t just tell me to start cutting wires.

YOU: CUT THE WHITE WIRES. THAT IS THE PLAN

AGENT: What’s your thinking? Not just going to cut arbitrary wires.

YOU: The white wires are key. You need to cut them first

AGENT: In other words…?

YOU: In other words, if you cut them the bomb won’t go off

AGENT: Keep it simple. Say again.

YOU: BOMB NO EXPLODEY IF WHITE WIRES NO WORKY

AGENT: Try and be concise.

Your progress is currently below average. The HELP command may offer ways for you to improve it.

TIME PENALTY: SECOND WARNING

YOU: Cut the white wires, because they are the important ones

AGENT: So you mean … actually, what do you mean?

YOU: The white wires detonate the bomb. Cut them

AGENT: Break that down for me once more. Please?

YOU: Forget it. You deserve to die

AGENT: So… put that another way?

The mainstreaming of sci-fi

I just saw Looper. It was an okay bit of time travel narrative but I’m rather surprised so many people thought it was mind-bending. I thought the time travel aspect was fairly straightforward and can only assume that it was confusing mostly to people who didn’t see time travel being the main plot of like every fifth episode of The Next Generation.

In fact, the reception for Looper rather reminds me of that for Inception as far as its sci-fi bits go. Have we forgotten the lessons taught to us by both the Back to the Future franchise and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure?

Primer, now that was a genuine time travel headscrew. Be more like that, Looper. And as for the rest of you people, quit being so dazzled by sci-fi, these plots have been going round and round for decades by now. And while we’re at it also make me king of the world. Is any of that really too much to ask?

Turn, turn

What the hell? One day it was warm, the next day it was actually fall. I’m pretty sure last weekend was the last time I could have worn shorts but I foolishly didn’t take the opportunity. The Toronto International Film Festival really marks the end of the summer movie season, doesn’t it?

And by the bye, The Bourne Legacy wasn’t a pile of crap. Kind of weird pacing in the start but it was okay enough.

The answer is blowing in the wind

On The Onion AV Club there is a discussion about the first film that participants have seen. I couldn’t contribute anything in my case because I honestly have no idea what my first movie is. I have seen hundreds upon hundreds of movies in my life and would be hard-pressed to tell you which specific movie was my first ever. I’m not even sure if it’s something I saw on video or at the movie theatre.

However, this realization also brought to light the fact that I have no idea how much media I consume beyond the vague estimate of “hundreds” in the case of movies. Therefore, I have a new project for myself: between now and the end of August of next year, I will count what and how many novels, movies, tv shows, and comic books I consume. I’ll even list what I’ve consumed in a given month.

Luckily August has only started so I still remember what I’ve consumed so far. Anyway, this project should be very instructive.

Books: Started reading Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

Comic Books: Gokuko no Brynhildr #21, Sket Dance #204, Otogi no Machi no Rena #49, The World God Only Knows #197

After the end

Okay, I’ve had time to sleep on it and I have to admit that The Dark Knight Rises is better than I thought it was. It’s already the next day and I’m still thinking about it. I’m reading online reviews and discussions about the themes and characters, so evidently the movie is one of those slow-burning ones where it takes you a while to fully digest everything. I’m revising my opinion upward.

No Man’s Land

I just saw The Dark Knight Rises. It’s an interesting little blockbuster.

All in all, I would say I liked it. I think the second was superior but I also think this film is better than the first. However, in the years since The Dark Knight I’d forgotten how melodramatic the dialogue in Nolan’s Batman films could be. It also had a somewhat clumsy thematic link to the Occupy Movement, the story being based mostly on the No Man’s Land arc from the comics, where Gotham City is cut off from the rest of the United States and anarchy rules the land.

I do think a stronger thematic connection could have been made between the villain, Bane, and Batman, particularly since they are both figures who deliberately disregard established social structures, but perhaps it’s better that link shouldn’t be returned to when it was used so well in The Dark Knight (the link being violence and insanity in that case).

The movie was good, not great, which makes it sound somewhat disappointing for what’s supposed to be a summer blockbuster, but then again, I can’t remember the last time I exited a movie theatre thinking, “That was awesome!” Perhaps I’m just picky.