Oct 21, 2014

[Books] Doctor Who: Corpse Marker (Monster Collection Edition)

We're coming up to the last few books in the Doctor Who: Monster Collection and this leaves us with the somewhat less-known monsters, especially for those who us a little late to the Doctor Who dance program. If anything, I figured these books would be a nice bridge for current fans to get into Classic Doctor Who stories in time, provided one has access to them.

Corpse Marker brings us the dreaded robots that had been seen in the episode, "The Robots of Death" together with the Fourth Doctor. Beyond featuring similar robots, this story was actually positioned as a direct sequel to that episode. It was certainly an interesting direction to take (somewhat similar to Scales of Injustice). But beyond just being a sequel story, it actually takes place very shortly after the episode itself.

The book certainly tried to capture the feel of a true Doctor Who television adventure and I could totally see the progression from each act of the story to the other. The final reveal as a whole was a little underwhelming though and things ended somewhat abruptly for me.

Oct 20, 2014

[Movies] The Book of Life (2014)

Guillermo Del Toro is one of the more interesting figures in the movie making industry given his unique artistic vision and clear passion for what he creates. And while he predominantly deals in the realms of horror, he has demonstrated interesting range with big summer blockbuster flicks like Pacific Rim among others.

So when news broke out that Del Toro was behind the animated feature project The Book of Life, I was both surprised and excited. Here was something rather new from Del Toro (although you could argue his Hellboy movies had similar sensibilities in some ways) and the early looks at the movie looked pretty stunning.

And this was a movie that was centered around the Mexican Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos), a rather interesting take on the need to remember the dead. My first exposure to this aspect of Mexican culture was actually through the classic LucasArts adventure game, Grim Fandango. The game literally took you to a weird afterlife with the skeletal protagonist Manny Calavera. But that could hardly prepare me for the visual feast that this movie turned out to be.

Oct 19, 2014

[TV] Transparent: Season 1

Since the formation of Amazon Studios, I've been rather lukewarm about the efforts. The first batch of shows didn't really excite me and we didn't even consider gambling on any of the shows. With this second batch of pilots, we actually went as far watching the pilot for The After and felt terribly disappointed.

But then came Transparent along and seriously, this is some of the best television that I've seen in a while - and it doesn't actually "air" on a television network! And I'm saying this not just because I'm gay and that I'm potentially more open to shows with strong LGBT themes at their core. I'm saying this because it's a damn good show.

Like many good shows, it has a pretty solid center. And that center is not just the fact that it's about a transgender woman's struggle to fully own her identity. The center of this show is a family - a perfectly normal family that has its share of joys and complications. And the way that they deal with things individually or together is really where the stories come forth.

Oct 17, 2014

[Movies] Gremlins (1984)

Okay, so while I'm totally horrible and trying to stick with watching horror movies, I have a bit more of a tolerance for horror comedy movies. This is not to say that I don't still fall prey to little jump-scares and other such surprise moments in these comedic movies. I'm a big of a loser that way. But hey, this still counts as part of my efforts to review more horror movies in line with the coming Halloween holiday.

Gremlins is one of those classic 1980's movie franchises that kinda only really made sense during the time. I mean seriously, could you think of selling a movie like this to modern movie audiences? I highly doubt that it would manage to get very far.

But for one reason or another this movie had a bit of a charm all on its own. It celebrated a lot of the tropes of other horror movies and stories of a somewhat scary nature and brought things all together into, well, this. It had a cute protagonist of sorts and of course totally nutty antagonists that made the most of the practical effects department behind this movie.

And it was campily glorious.

Oct 16, 2014

[TV] Falling Skies: Season 4

When it comes to Falling Skies, there are three important questions that have to be asked. (1) How did this show get a fourth season? (2) Why did I watch all four seasons? (3) How did it get a fifth and (thankfully) final season? I really don't know how to answer any of these questions, but it's a little too late now. And with the confirmation that the show will end with the fifth season, the somewhat obsessive part of my personality is arguing that I should still watch that season once it comes out. I feel so torn.

Falling Skies isn't necessarily a terrible show, but as it has dragged on it's hard to really see much in terms of redeeming qualities either. If anything it just sort of wanders forward, with the overall meta-plot being a little thin.

And it's such a shame since the core premise of the show was interesting enough - following the human resistance in the middle of an alien invasion. And the focus on a single bad of rebel fighters was decent enough for narrative purposes, it also kept the scope of the show rather limited. And given some of the bigger plot points, it was harder and harder to appreciate just how much this one band of fighters was supposedly responsible for.

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