Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Sunday Review

This week's movie was The LEGO Movie (2014). I fully expected to hate this movie. Yeah, I heard good reviews, but I have seen enough other LEGO creative endeavors that I was not really expecting much at all. In fact, I was pretty sure I would be disappointed. Not only was I not disappointed, I want to see it again to catch some more of the in-jokes that were spread around. It actually had a plot! I wasn't expecting that. And the characters were, if a little stereotyped, still "fleshed" out enough to work. The jokes were sometimes edgily hilarious and other time flat-out stupid funny. Emmett was a good protagonist and I loved seeing Green Lantern as an annoying prat bothering Superman. Pity there was no Aquaman, but maybe that was for the best.

As for the main plotline: (SPOILER ALERT!)(END SPOILER) Overall, a lot of fun.

So much fun that I went to Amazon and purchased the awful pop song almost as soon as we finished watching the movie. It's almost as good for exercising as Chicken Fat. LEGO jumping jacks!

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Jun 11th
  • Justice League United #2 - I'm really not sure I like this version of Rann. I mean, I've never been a big fan of Adam Strange, but this just seems like stomping all over the whole Rann legacy to me. I'm just not impressed.
  • Green Lantern Corps #32 - So the Durlans are still one step ahead? What a surprise. I'm really tired of this plot.
  • World's Finest #24 - This feels a bit like a final episode. Nice touch on how the employee pitches in to help. I do like the team-up of Power Girl and Huntress despite the recent annoying crossover that derailed the book almost entirely.
  • Smallville Lantern #3 - There's a whole lot going on in this book that makes very little sense unless you can remember what came before, and that's just not as clear as it could be. Though, hey, Ma Hunkle. That's something.
  • Astro City #13 - While it all pulled together in the end, the temporal jumps made this one a difficult read. I really want to rearrange it and read it in the actual hourly order, but I'm not tearing my book apart.
  • Tales of Honor #3 - This continues to be more of an illustrated novel than a proper comic book. Yes, the source material is dense with information, but a good adaptation would find the key bits and promote them. In this, an absolutely key moment, McKean's support of Harrington against Hauptman, is kind of underplayed. I'm moderately disappointed with the adaptation, though the artwork is quite fascinating.
  • Spongebob Comics #33 - Jerry Ordway art for the Mermaid Man story, and Ramona Fradon work on the back cover... I'm happy.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Warlord of Oz #2 - If those are "practical fighting togs" then I'm the queen of England. Ug. Story is vaugely interesting, character clothing and design is a little insulting.

The Martian: A Novel by Andy Weir. Hubby-Eric checked this out from the library, so I went ahead and read it as well. This is a VERY good book for nerds like me. It's a survival story that just piece-by-piece takes the reader through all the things this poor guy has to do when he's left behind, presumed dead, on Mars. Mark Watney, the main character, is a very smart engineer (hey, he was picked for a journey to Mar, after all) and goes about dealing with his situation the way a good ol' engineer would. It's a book very much in the traditional of Robinson Crusoe, but it's so modern and nerdy that it's just fantastic. Crusoe never had a crew worried about him or a bunch of people at home able to see his camp, and it's the other side of the story that really makes this book a thrilling read. Any nerd who is even slightly interested in space flight, colonization of other planets or just plain science really ought to read this one.

My mystery book this week was The Alpine Vengeance by Mary Daheim. Milo starts getting disturbing letters that indicate a decade-old murder is still unsolved, prompting Emma to start looking into the past. Once again the town's people get a major role and, better, this book also goes back to a previous murder, apparently already solved, and reopens it. Do mystery writers generally go back and revisit a previous story? The events from earlier were covered in The Alpine Fury, and that story had multiple mysteries that had to be solved. Many of them are discussed in this story, but the key piece is one that Milo and Emma got wrong ten years ago. I enjoyed this one, not just for the references to the past (which were very easy to follow) but also the way it ties in with the city and the population. If you want to start the Alpine series, I strongly recommend starting at the first book, The Alpine Advocate.

Fortean Times #316
Fortean Times #316 (July 2014). Disturbing Voodoo cover. Not really my thing, and it goes back to the old format of having a face as the focal point, which isn't my favorite type of cover, either. The gentleman in question, Rollo Ahmed, seems to have gotten along by playing "the Other" in England, which is a depressing way to deal with racism... but apparently somewhat effective at the time. The article ends with a promise for more about Ahmed in next month's issue.

Another main article is about mass hysteria, covering why it happens and what the results can be. The whole article is in support of the release of a book on mass hysteria and examines a few cases while referring readers to the book to get more information. That's not to say that there isn't a lot of information in the article... enough in fact for the casual reader. But the book promises more and more detail if one so desires.

The third main article is about the Human Fly, a real-life "superhero" of the late 1970s who did lots of stunts, including standing on a DC-8 airplane as it took off and jumping school buses at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. I vaguely remember the guy, but I was a little too young to remember much. Still, fun to read about.

Strangedays starts with Slender Man, the freaky and yet totally fictitious internet meme that apparently has taken on a life of its own thanks to idiots who are unable to distinguish reality from fiction. The whole Slenderman phenomenon is something I mean to write more about some time, but I'm still thinking through the implications of people who seriously believe in it. There's something profound about human nature in that story.

Ahem. Moving on, Strangedays also has objects that stopped bullets, a narcoleptic epidemic, attack of the tumbleweeds, scary emus and moronic criminals. Science covers the history of Lichtenberg patterns and how they were perceived by people throughout the ages along with bits on the Turin Shroud. Archaeology finds evidence of vampire burials in Poland and meteorite shrines in Arizona. Classical Corner is a tough read but appears to be about pre-Roman Britian and how those people reacted to Romans.

Ghostwatch is about ghost photographs and what photography and technology has done for ghost hunting. Alien Zoo finds a new jellyfish, the return of a sasquatch mask sort of stolen by a teacher in 1939 to the First Nations it belongs to and the existence of a possible feather of a thunderbird. Fairies, Folklore and Forteana is about One-Eyed Joan, who identified a witch in 1555 by, as she told an ecclesiastical court, talking to fairies. The UFO Files looks at abductee support groups, the Hessdalen sightings and the problems with alien communication. UFO Casebook takes a closer look at crop circles.

Random Dictionary dares to take on alien abductions, and starts with the earliest reports, then moves on to the general timeline of an abduction. I, personally, think there is a completely different explanation for abductions. I'm sure I'd feel differently if I were a victim, but unless such a thing happens to me, I tend to think these are something the mind manufactures rather than actual physical experiences. Perhaps we'll someday know the truth... if it's actually out there.

The Forum starts with a piece about objects that fall from the sky, and how some of them come from nearby activities on the ground. One example used is the head of a sledgehammer that was tossed through a roof by a wood chipper. The second Forum article is sort of an attack on cryptozoology and the assumptions often made by people in the field, but also a promo for a book, Cryptozoologicon, about it. Some good, some bad... if the book is written like the article I'm not interested.

The final Forum article tackles the disturbing legend of foundation sacrifices, particularly for bridges. The article actually quotes Terry Pratchett and mentions Discworld and "speculative folklorists". Fun stuff about a gruesome topic.

Reviews are great, starting with a lovely takedown of a Rendlesham book and continuing to a review of Paul Cornell's latest. Letters are good, with some interesting additions to previous articles. One letter notes that if an airliner can simply vanish, how likely is it that we would know if there are UFOs watching us? Interesting thought.

It Happened To Me has a long excerpt about an Alaskan earthquake that was fascinating. Fortean Traveller visits Norway to seek out the Northern Lights (and finds them). Phenomenomix is... amusing. Another good issue.

In a rare feat of something, I'm completely caught up with this magazine at the moment. It'll actually be almost a full month before I get my next issue. And this is apparently the issue currently on the stands in the UK (I tend to get my issue nearly a month after the UK). So this is a rare moment. Enjoy.


Roger Owen Green said...

I liked the LEGO MOVIE, too! I think the too-high expectations may have dampened it somewhat, but still very worthwhile.

Bill Doughty said...

"'...Despite the recent annoying crossover that derailed the book almost entirely': The New 52 Story"