Mad Max: Fury Road

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MadMax

I have not seen the original Mad Max movies, and I didn’t plan on seeing this one.  It looked like a dick flick; you know, movies you’re more likely to enjoy if you have a dick.  The 300 and Clash of the Titans are movies I classified as dick flicks, because despite how much my guy friends like them, my final impression of both was “blah.”  I figured that Fury Road would be nothing but cars, fights, explosions, and the occasional sexy and/or scantily clad woman.

Feel the testosterone flow through you.

Feel the testosterone flow through you.

The guys at work raved about Mad Max, but it wasn’t until my uncle said he wanted to see it that I changed my mind.  My uncle’s movies taste more closely match those of movie critics’ than the average moviegoer, so I doubted he’d go see a movie if he’d heard it was a dick pick.  So I gave the movie a chance.

It surprised me.  Yes, there is a lot of action and fighting, and some testosterone and scantily clad women, but while I may still classify this as a dick pick, I actually enjoyed it.  It’s not groundbreaking, and some things were just silly, but assuming you judge it one what it is – a summer popcorn action flick – then it shouldn’t disappoint.

BuffyPopcorn

Considering that I haven’t seen any of the other Mad Max movies, Fury Road does a decent job of setting up the world.  Something happened – possibly mankind itself – that made the world start dying.  As resources became scarce, law and order broke down, and most of mankind is shitty and at least partially crazy.  So now we have an excuse to have a bunch of people drive around the desert in cannibalized cars, jumping between vehicles and throwing explosives at each other.

There are a lot of things that have to be taken with a grain of salt.  The idea that the world has spiraled down this far, but there’s still a large enough and reliable enough gas supply to keep all these vehicles running seems silly.  People swinging from poles between cars is silly.  In a war/attack convoy, having a vehicle dedicated to some drummer dudes and a guy playing an electric guitar is very silly.  And yet, the silliness is part of the fun.

Ridiculous, but looks cool.

Ridiculous, but looks cool.

Part of what saved this movie for me is the female characters.  The “plot” is that the Big Bad’s concubines are trying to escape him and get to safety, and need help.  But the female characters in this movie were more than just pretty props.  Furiosa was tied with Max for main character and was capable of being a badass.  The concubines’ actresses were doubtlessly chosen for their looks – supermodels in a dystopia doesn’t make sense, but that’s part of what makes dick flicks – and their characters weren’t fleshed out, but the lines they did have helped to highlight different mindsets that might exist in such a world.  They did more than scream, faint, trip at [in]convenient times, and/or have sex with the main character, which is all I  would expect from a dick flick, so that was an unexpected bonus.

No fainting flowers, kthnx.

No fainting flowers, kthnx.

If anything, I feel that Max was kinda upstaged.  By the end of the movie, I was more invested in Furiosa and Nux (the War Boy) than I was in Max.  The emotional scene he had towards the end fell flat for me.  It’s kinda sad when the main character is upstaged.

For a movie with a lot of action and not a lot of dialogue, Mad Max: Fury Road was surprisingly good.  Not something I’d buy, or necessarily feel the urge to watch again, but it was worth watching the first time and shouldn’t bore you if you decide to repeat the experience.

Rating: 7/10

Rock on.

Rock on.

Blood Price

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Blood_Price_cover

The first books I read by Tanya Huff were her Valor series, which I loved.  It had humor, action, and a strong female hero.  Blood Price also has humor, action, and a strong female hero, so I should love it too, right?  Wrong.  But let’s talk about the story first.

Vicki Nelson used to be a homicide investigator.  She was good at it and loved it, but quit because of bad eyesight that was only getting worse.  So she became a private investigator.  She gets hired by a college student to look into the death of a classmate/lover, and along the way partners up with a [non-sparkly] vampire and learns that demons are real.  This book is not Supernatural though.

Crowley would've made things more interesting.

Crowley would’ve made things more interesting.

Yes, there are supernatural elements and humor and fight scenes, but it left me underwhelmed.  Since the vampire, Fitzroy, is nocturnal and doesn’t interact much with Vicki, the author tries to interest you in him with flashbacks of his past.  I didn’t care though, and skipped over most of them.  Vicki has what is described as a “stormy” relationship with Mike Celluci, meaning they scream at each other 90% of the time and have sex the other 10%.

So this is love, huh?

So this is love, huh?

The villain is pitiful.  Not in the sense that he’s a worthless villain, but rather that I almost pitied him.  I understood his motivations, and while he was creepy, I kinda felt bad for him by the end.  I’m not sure if that was the author’s intention or not.

The book was decent, I finished it, and I intend to read the next one, but that’s partially because book I have is a 2-for-1 deal that has both Blood Price and Blood Trail.  Hopefully the next book is bit better though, because after the Valor series, Blood Price was a bit disappointing.

Rating: 6/10

SpoilerAlert

So, about the villain.  Norman Birdwell is an oddball.  He’s the sort of person that, if one day they snapped and did something drastic, deep down you wouldn’t really be surprised.  That’s Norman.  He wants to be liked, to fit in, to get a girl, but instead he gets laughed at and shrugged off.  Repeatedly.  To his face.  And then he starts summoning demons, making the demon steal cool things for him, and when he still doesn’t get the girl, he orders the demon to kill.

Crowley would hate being compared to Norman, but...

Crowley would hate being compared to Norman, but…

I got the feeling that maybe Norman wasn’t aware that when the demon he summoned needed to “feed” it was actually killing, because when he finally gave it a direct order to kill it seemed like a big deal.  That makes Norman even more pitiful, because that means he wasn’t an intentional killer at first.  Granted, the fact that he thought summoning demons was an any way a good idea is not a point in his favor, but it doesn’t seem like he started with malicious intentions, but rather was corrupted by the power he was trying to control.  Almost more of a victim than a villain.  And since I can’t tell how much of this is intentional on the author’s part, it makes Norman a bit of a problem for me.

Secret Wars: A-Force #1

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AForce1

I’m generally not a comic book fan.  Most traditional comic book art doesn’t impress me, and I think comic books are an expensive hobby.  However, when I saw an ad for A-Force in one of my Free Comic Book Day comics, I decided to give it a shot.  I like the idea of an all/majority-female team, and of seeing some female heroes I know less about take the spotlight.  In those regards, the comic didn’t disappoint.

The concept behind Marvel’s Secret Wars is the multi-verses have collided and created one patchwork place called Battleworld.  So all the different universes’ variations of certain heroes can all conceivably exist on the same planet now, in different locations and/or new combinations.  A-Force takes place in an area called Arcadia, where the majority of superheroes are women.  I like this.  It’s fun to see all these different female heroes I like on one team, and to read a plot/story where the women are in charge without the men being reduced to slaves or house-husbands.

GirlPower

The female hero squad regularly patrols boundaries of Arcadia, and as we watch them make their rounds, we see a number of heroes: Lady Loki, Captain Marvel, Pixie, Spider Woman, and more.  From the cover and various internet summaries I know who the main characters will be, but in this chapter it felt like the most important characters were She-Hulk, Sister Grimm/Nico Minoru, and [Lady] Loki.

We learn that this new world has some new rules, and that breaking those rules have serious consequences.  This is obviously going to be a point of conflict in the series.  There is also a hint at some other unknown danger at the end of the chapter, as well as a mysterious character.  You know, things to get you to tune in next time and buy the next book.  And I definitely will.

Art: 6/10 (Slightly better than average for common comics I’ve encountered)
Story: 7.5/10
Overall: 8/10 (Admittedly, this is partially just due to my excitement of an all-star female team)

SpoilerAlert

Now to head into my thoughts and speculations about some particulars.  First, Lady Loki.  Lady Loki is apparently a guardian/mentor/parental figure to Ms. America – who was apparently taken away/drafted as a result of breaking one of Battleworld’s new rules – and Sister Grimm.  As far as I know, there are very few times where Loki stays a good character.  I anticipate tension at the very least.

The face of trouble.

The face of trouble.

Singularity seems like she’ll be an interesting character.  One of the comics’ creators basically said she’ll provide an outside perspective on the A-Force/human race – think Spock, Q, Castiel, etc. – and will possess the ability to move between worlds/dimensions.  Since breaching the borders of Arcadia – or whatever little piece of Battleworld a character lives in – is one of the new big No-No’s, Singularity presents an interesting potential loophole and dilemma.  And since Sister Grimm is the one that found her, it looks like the comic’s writers are planning to head in that direction.

Island of the Sequined Love Nun

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LoveNun

I loved Moore’s book A Dirty Job.  I remember liking several parts of his book Lamb, even though I didn’t finish it for some reason.  Then I read Practical Demonkeeping and this book, and I was just so disappointed.  And bored.  And frustrated.

WhatHappened

So chronologically, the books were written in this order: Practical Demonkeeping, Love Nun, Lamb, A Dirty Job.  Since the book I liked the most of those four is the most recently written, I’d like to think/hope that part of the reason is because Moore’s storytelling has improved over time.  I’ll have to try one of his other, more recent books.

But back to the Love Nun book.  I didn’t love it.  In fact, I found extremely boring, and couldn’t bring myself to waste the time trudging through the rest of it when I knew I could be reading something else.

AintNobody

Tuck is an idiot who thinks with his dick, and ends up crashing his employer’s private plane during an ill-advised mid-flight liaison.  Then he gets a shady employment offer and ends up on a backwater island with a collection of odd characters.

There’s the taxi driver, with the junker taxi car and aspirations to be a Crips gangbanger.  There’s the intelligence officer that spends his days “spying” on the island’s “navy,” which basically amounts to a fishing boat.  And there’s the cross-dressing prostitute/pilot named Kimi who has a live bat necklace/pet.  Sounds like a fun group, right?

MorpheusWrong2

Nope, they aren’t fun.  It’s not like they’ve created a fellowship to help the main character, thus becoming interesting and entertaining side characters.  No, the story diverts from the main “plot” to show you how quirky these other characters are, but ultimately they contribute nothing to the story but filler.  And it feels like filler.  It’s like ordering General Tso’s Chicken from a Chinese place and getting a dish with a bunch of broccoli and peppers and other vegetables, and just a couple of pieces of chicken.  Vegetables are okay, but you’d probably feel cheated and want more chicken.  Well, I wanted more story!

Where's the plot?

Where’s the plot?

What I read felt like an aimless mess that was going no where fast, so I gave up.  I don’t care what happens to Tuck, so I’m just going to pretend he was eaten by cannibals so I can move on to another book.

Rating: 2/10

Free Comic Book Day 2015 – Part 2

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AOT_Comic

This book actually has four different manga stories inside.  I will review each part separately, starting with Attack on Titan.

Considering all the praise and hype surrounding Attack on Titan, I expected it to blow my mind, but my brain has remained in one piece.  In fact, by the end of the story, I was kinda going “So what?”  Yes, I can see how the story has potential, but the actual part in this manga book was nothing special.  I may watch the series on Netflix, but unless the TV series is amazing, I won’t be reading any more of the manga.

Rating: 6/10

Noragami

This second part is about a homeless, roaming, D-list god.  I was expecting the god to have a Naruto-type personality, or maybe be like Captain Jack Sparrow.  He turned out to be a bit of a jerk and not that interesting, so I didn’t like him.  I like the idea of curses and blessings personified/coming to life, but it’s not enough to get me to spend money to read the rest of the series.

Rating: 4.5/10

VinlandVikings

Viking invasion of Britain.  Meh.  I like medieval fantasy stuff, but this was lacking in the fantasy element.  I ended up skimming the story and nothing really caught my eye.  Nothing of interest here.

Rating: 2/10

inuyashiki

With how unimpressed I’ve been with the majority of my FCBD loot, I was not expecting a story like this.  The story follows an old man, diagnosed with terminal cancer at the very start of the story.  To make things even sadder, his family all either takes him for granted and/or ignores him.  The only character that seems to give a shit about him is the dog.  His situation kicked me right in the feels.

The story’s summary hints that the old man will be getting abilities of some sort, and the ending was pretty cliffhanger-y.  I like stories with a less conventional main character, I like the potential of the story, and I wanted to hug the old man.  Inuyashiki is the first and only story from all of my FCBD loot that genuinely makes me want to buy more to see what happens.

Rating: 8/10

LieinApril

Boring.  The premise described in the summary wasn’t particularly interesting – sounded like a sappy YA novel – and the actual manga wasn’t any better.  A guy finds some girl’s clothes hanging in a tree, and then sees a not-naked girl playing some music for some kids.  That’s it.  I just told you all of what happened in a single sentence.  BORING.

Rating: 1/10

SpoilerAlert

Speculation on Inuyashiki.  I’m not sure how spoiler-y this is, but figured I’d put a warning.  The official summary says that after an incident, the main character – Ichiro – notices something different about himself, and that maybe he’d have a chance to become a man worthy of respect.  The end of the tease implies that he was accidentally killed by aliens, and rebuilt as a robot/cyborg (or something similar).  This could mean that his cancer is gone (I hope), and that he could have all sorts of fun robot/cyborg powers.  Elderly gentleman with super strength and laser eyes,perhaps?  Now that’d be interesting!

Free Comic Book Day 2015

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DocWhoComic

The art was fairly close to typical Western comic style art, but I found it more tolerable since I really like Doctor Who.  These stories were definitely the best of all the comics, having three self-contained mini-episodes, two of which I could easily see being full-length TV episodes.  The fact that the stories made sense, were entertaining, and each reached a conclusion made this the hands-down best comic that I picked up on Free Comic Book Day.

( 0 = Die in a fire, 5 = Average, 10 = I lurv it)

Art = 5
Story = 7
Overall = 6

SecretWars

The first comic, the Secret Wars, was boring and stuffy.  The whole thing was nothing but a bunch of stuffy kids standing around discussing the pseudo-science, colliding-universe nonsense that Marvel is going to use as an excuse to create the giant crossover.  While the crossover sounds interesting, this part of the comic was a giant snoozefest.  I’m not familiar with Attack on Titan, so while at least the second part had action, I wasn’t that impresses with it either.

Art = 5 (Both)
Story = 3 (2.5 for Secret Wars, 3.5 for Titan)
Overall = 4

AllNewAvengers

I was interested to see the new Ms. Marvel, Spiderman, and female Thor together as I hadn’t seen them before.  It had action, but the story was just… meh.  It wasn’t good or bad, it was just there, and it was short.  The Inhumans part was better.  I wouldn’t say it was great, but it was enough to intrigue me about the series; what I saw of Medusa made me interested in her.

Art = 5 (Both)
Story = 4.75 (4.5 for Avengers, 5 for Inhumans)
Overall = 4.75

TitansScooby

The Teen Titans part left me conflicted.  The art is cute, but very childish.  Maybe I’d get used to it with time, but it seemed too youthful for a book about teenage superheroes; might’ve been better for something like Powerpuff Girls or Invader Zim.  The story was a silly bit of fluff with no real plot, but it was self-contained which was nice.  The Scooby-Doo part was stupid.  A team of superheroes, including the detective-smart Batman, the ridiculously powerful Superman, and Supergirl needed to call on the Scooby Gang to solve a “ghost” problem?  No.  Just, not.  I don’t buy it.

Art = 5.5 (6 for Titans, 5 for Scooby)
Story = 4.5 (6 for Titans, 3 for Scooby)
Overall = 4.5

MotorSamurai

I had high hopes for this one.  The art is interesting, and just judging from the cover, I figured it’d be about a motorcycle-riding female hero gang.  Nope.  It had potential, but the writing/way the story was told made it boring.  Very disappointing.

Art = 6
Story = 2
Overall = 2 (Story outweighed art)

SuperMutantAcademy

UGH!  So bad, it was frustrating.  The “good” art in this comic book looks like Sunday comic strip art at best.  In the first part, each “story” was only one page long.  Each story was about stupid stuff that might happen in any normal high school, but not even the fun stuff, just lame, run-of-the-mill events!  In the second part, the “stories” were a single line long.  That’s right, three frames!  I didn’t even bother finishing it, and considering it’s basically a picture book, that’s sad.

Art = 1
Story = 0
Overall = 0.5

Mistborn: The Final Empire

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FinalEmpire

[First half spoiler-free, then spoilers after warning.]

This is the second series by Brandon Sanderson that I’m reading, and it does not disappoint.  The book is 600+ pages, and while it is descriptive, it does not spend seven pages describing a forest or a building.  Because this is a longer book, the set-up takes longer, so it takes a while for the story to gain momentum.

The main character of the book is Vin.  She starts off as a beaten and untrusting street urchin, and at first I didn’t like her.  Over time she gains some confidence, and turns out to be a very powerful Allomancer.  I generally like strong female heroes, so I really wanted to like her and was rooting for her to save the day.

Girl power!

Girl power!

Kelsier becomes a sort of secondary main character a bit into the book.  He’s charismatic and daring with a tragic past; not unique, but still fun.  Other characters I like were the enigmatic Sazed and the quirky Elend.

The story takes place in a rather depressing world, with most of the action centered on Luthadel, a sad, sooty city with a large population of slum-living “skaa,” peasants treated like slaves.  The Big Bad – an immortal tyrant – lives in the pointy, many-towered building called Kredik Shaw, located in the center of Luthadel.

Ok, Luthadel isn't THAT bad, but there are similarities.

Ok, Luthadel isn’t THAT bad, but there are similarities.

The Lord Ruler maintains his rule in part with Allomancy, the magic of the land.  In a lot of books, magic is very vague; lots of wizards tossing fireballs and lightning around with nothing but some gibberish words.  On the other hand, Sanderson gives Allomancy clearly defined mechanics and parameters.  I think this makes the magic more interesting and unique.  He does spend a fair amount of time describing Allomancy and having Vin learn Allomancy though, so some might find it boring.

Buckle down, there's learning to be done.

Buckle down, there’s learning to be done.

I liked that the book was more thoughtful with its magic system, and that the story wasn’t the epic quest tale typical of many epic fantasies.  It wasn’t a page-turner, but I was entertained throughout most of the book.  This is part of a series, so I plan to read the next book.

Final rating: 8/10 (0 = die in a fire, 5 = average, 10 = amazeballs)

SpoilerAlert

So Vin was awesome and disappointing at the same time.  Awesome because she managed to go from a downtrodden girl I didn’t like, to a girl with a bit more confidence and spunk, not to mention cool abilities.  She’s starts off as a short-haired, pants-wearing, dirty-faced urchin, and eventually embraces luxuries like perfumed baths and fancy dresses without losing sight of who she is.  A lot of books/movies seem to be afraid to make a kickass girl that likes dresses and girly things, unless she’s a sexy/flirty femme fatale type character, so I’m glad Sanderson didn’t shy away from that.

You can kick ass AND wear dresses!

You can kick ass AND wear dresses!

However, she suffered from Harry Potter Syndrome in that despite all the hype around her, how she won the showdown with The Lord Ruler had nothing to do with her gifted Allomancy abilities.  In fact, it was really nothing special at all, just circumstantial luck/resources: she had the Eleventh Metal and knowledge of the logbook.  Given the same resources, any relatively intelligent Mistborn Allomancer could’ve done the same.

Just keep telling yourself that.

Keep telling yourself that Harry/Vin.

I don’t understand how The Lord Ruler managed to have a young version and an old version, and I can’t remember anything being done to the old version.  I assume that’ll be in a sequel, so I shall read on.