Saturday May 31, 2014
Because somebody asked, here's the list of films I'm planning to see between now and mid-August, and for which I'll write reviews. I'll be seeing them on opening weekend whenever possible.
Edge of Tomorrow (late review -- I'm at an event all weekend)
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Of the films on this list I'm most excited about Guardians of the Galaxy, and most worried about How to Train Your Dragon 2. I loved the first one, and desperately want them to do something new and awesome that I can love just as much, but that's a tall order.
After that, I supposed I'm pretty hopeful for Edge of Tomorrow, and cautiously optimistic for Jupiter Ascending. I mean, I expect it to be a clumsy space-opera, but if it's a GOOD space-opera I'll be really happy.
Anyway, now you know. If there's something coming soon that's not on this list, and you'd like me to see it, go ahead and post that in the comments. I make no guarantees, however. As I said in reply to the original comment, I see movies that fall in the intersection set of "I want to see this movie" and "I have time to see this movie." I don't bother seeing films that don't interest me (pretty much any horror movie, for instance.) Life's too short for me to take ALL the bullets for you guys.
Friday May 30, 2014
Angelina Jolie was perfect as Maleficent. Rick Baker's work on her face and horns? Also perfect. There is an awful lot to love about this movie.
So, yes! I loved this film, and had a great time seeing it with Sandra. Having an actual date at a movie will do a lot to boost it over the Threshold of Awesome, but I don't think Maleficent needed the boost.
The film did have a little bit of a demographic problem, though. Kids are going to want to see it, and I can see how parts of the movie were built to appeal to them. The narration, in particular, was something neither Sandra nor I felt was necessary, but for kids who can't yet grasp the nuances of great acting the additional layer of storytelling is bound to be helpful. And the battle scenes? Lots of clobbering and flinging, but no actual stabbing, no blood splatter, no decapitation, and surprisingly very little death. One scene in particular shows a group of soldiers fighting giant, burning, magical thorns, and it's going badly enough for them that I pretty much assumed they were dead. Nope! The smoldering, sooty, and scraped up soldiers report back to the king, and that particular visual seems like it would feel right at home in a cartoon.
There were lots of kids, and I think a few tweens in the audience. Judging from the noise, they had a good time. What I'm saying here is that you shouldn't trust me to tell you whether a movie is going to work for your kids, because I AM FORTY-SIX.
The jaded old man in me wanted Maleficent to dig deeply into the horrors Maleficent wrought. Why stop with "kind of dark" when "grimdark" is just a few steps away? Well, because Disney. Minor disappointment aside, I'm totally okay with how Disney decided to play it, especially since they played so well against some of the tropes they've established over the last 75 years.
You might be wondering what the film does to the Sleeping Beauty canon. Well, wonder away, because I don't want to spoil anything... except to say that there were a couple of scenes where the sets were built to echo the animated feature's matte paintings, and I got a real thrill out of those. If watching Disney's Sleeping Beauty is something you're up for before seeing Maleficent, I'd encourage it. I wish I'd done it. There are probably a hundred such moments throughout the film, and I only caught two.
Maleficent clears the Threshold of Awesome, and though it only ranks #5 for me, as of this writing the top six films are really quite close. And I think I said that last week, too.
(Aside: "Fun I had at the movies" is not the same as "want to see again." Godzilla, Maleficent, and The Lego Movie are all films I'd be happy to see again, and I've already seen Godzilla twice. But before you ask, no, I'm not going to create a scale for re-watchability. I do have an actual job to do. Speaking of which, I need to post this, and then ink comics and sketch in copies of Book 10.)
Thursday May 29, 2014
I'll be at the Privateer Press Lock & Load event in a week. If you'll be there too, skip to the last paragraph!
While I know there is overlap between Schlock Mercenary readers and Warmachine players, it's not huge, and to further narrow the intersection of sets, there's probably a very limited number of people who play Warmachine, plan to attend Lock & Load next week, read Schlock Mercenary, AND want signed and sketched Schlock Mercenary books.
For this, and other reasons, I won't be selling books there. I'll be playing games, and maybe signing things related to the stuff I've written for Privateer Press. If, however, you are there and have Schlock Mercenary books, I'll totally sign and sketch those, too.
If you'll be there and you want me to sign books, place your order now. Then email firstname.lastname@example.org with your order number and the words "Lock & Load" in the title. We'll put those unsigned, unsketched books in the mail tomorrow, and you'll have them in time for the event. I'll bring my Sharpie.
Wednesday May 28, 2014
I'm featured as a guest in a couple of places this week.
Over at Mary Robinette Kowal's site you can learn about My Favorite Bit from Longshoreman of the Apocalypse, and on John Scalzi's site I'll tell you what the Big Idea was in that story.
And of course here at Schlock Mercenary you can still pre-order the book. All orders placed before June 4th will be signed!
Monday May 26, 2014
After all my rambling on about nostalgia-mining, X-Men: Days of Future Past proved to be a great case-study in how to work nostalgia correctly. And putting aside all the artsy deconstruction stuff, I had a fun at the movie. It clears my Threshold of Awesome.
As it happens, "Days of Future Past" is a time-travel story. Who knew? (Answer: everybody who watched the trailers.) With time travel as a plot device, the storyteller can do some neat things, meta-things, like taking the audience back to movie-moments they've experienced before, and making them better than the audience remembered them.
Your mileage may vary, here, depending on how much you liked X-Men (2000), X2 (2003), and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006). Me, I liked the first one, loved the second one, and thought the third one was clumsy in spite of (or maybe because of) the amount of awesome stuff they tried to put into it.
X-Men: Days of Future Past skirts around that trilogy completely, opening with a late-stages apocalypse setting (post-"Last Stand," obviously) and then jumping to the early 70's, about a decade after the events of X-Men: First Class. In the course of doing this, we get to see some of what Logan/Wolverine remembers about the intervening years. And even though that bit was only a tiny part of the overall movie, it served to make the whole thing more powerful by taking all the nostalgia I had for the previous decade's X-Men films and distilling it for a single, concentrated punch.
Of course, if you hated those films and don't want to be reminded of them, that punch may end up working against the directorial vision for this film. Like I said above, YMMV.
X-Men: Days of Future Past comes in at number 5 for me for the year, but pretty much everything above this year's Threshold of Awesome is neck-and-neck, so the numbering feels kind of arbitrary, even to me.