Space oddity

I’ve probably said it before, but one of the big threats to modern blockbusters these days is the curse of being ‘ok’, where the major studios have honed the art of producing the sort of entertainment which feels good going down while being bland and homogenized enough to not leave any significant impression. But at this point in my life, spending the time and money to plan an evening out watching something mildly diverting is something that I increasingly find isn’t worth the effort. The price of that movie ticket could go towards a good book, for instance.

Luc Besson’s Valerian doesn’t have this sort of focus group fiat feel. It is bad in ways that, for instance, a Marvel movie would have sanded over. But as spectacle it’s also far more inventive and singular than those movies typically are. Admittedly, though, a big part of my goodwill towards it comes from its earnest desire to channel classic space opera, which is something you don’t see very often. Given that we are promised a constant stream of new Star Wars movies, while Marvel itself has been cranking out those Guardians of the Galaxy flicks. But while the original Star Wars was the product of a man who had read golden era sci-fi, modern Star Wars and its brethren are largely the product of people who have watched Star Wars. The only other film in recent memory to feel like an actual space opera was Jupiter Ascending, and I seem to be one of the five or six people who actually loved that movie. That, combined with how Valerian has tanked at the box office seems to be proof that my taste in popcorn cinema seems to be at complete loggerheads with what the moviegoing public wants.

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Turning to more important subject matter…

To my shame and discredit I haven’t talked much about sci-fi books lately, so let’s rectify that by talking about Gabe Hudson’s Gork, The Teenage Dragon, a book I picked up almost solely on the concept alone: a romantic comedy centered around planet-conquering dragon warlords. I am so the target audience for that kind of schlock. Granted, Hudson skews the material along teen comedy lines where I would have tried to pen something more Austenian. But I guess a reptillian Lizzie Bennet is perhaps too much to ask.

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Crime and punishment

Time for another David Lynch review! This time jumping back to 1997.

Lost Highway is a frustrating movie. Like Psycho, it spends its first act being one kind of movie before taking a sudden sharp turn into becoming something completely different. But unlike Psycho, the movie it transforms into is much worse than what you were previously watching.

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“Father…let us embrace!”

As I’ve detailed somewhat on this blog, I love Arthurian romance and medieval literature more generally. This has not translated into a love for modern pop cultural adaptations thereof.

John Boorman’s 1981 flick Excalibur didn’t exactly seem like a promising candidate to bridge that gap, existing as it does in the glut of cheesy sword and sorcery movies that flooded the 80s. The only other film directed by Boorman that I can claim any familiarity with is the rather awful Zardoz, and I’ve rarely heard much of Excalibur aside from an acknowledgement of it being a thing that exists. But there’s a bit of a tell in how the credits specifically state that it was adapted from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur.

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Yet another dorky FF fanboy post

Back in 2015 near the start of my re-rediscovery of JRPGs, I wrote a ridiculously long post on Final Fantasy XII. Somehow I even managed to weave Charles Norris Cochrane’s analysis of the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of Christendom into it. Since then I’ve had the opportunity to revisit VI, VII and X, and play XIII and XV for the first time. The short summation of all that has been: VI and VII are still great, warts and all; X is frankly a little bit boring; XIII is more interesting than X, but it’s falling apart at the seams; XV is a very enjoyable mess.

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BTT Manga Roundup

I’m back at Beneath the Tangles again, this time talking about manga.

Aside from video games, my experiences with Japanese pop culture recently have centred around manga; picking up drawing as a hobby has led to a renewed interest in the sequential art of both east and west. In light of that, I intend to give a round-up of some of the noteworthy manga I’ve dipped my…

via Josh’s Manga Roundup — Beneath the Tangles

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Understanding Sanic

Of all the platformers originating from my childhood days, Sonic the Hedgehog seems to have won my contemporary interest almost by default: not owning a nintendo console since the N64 days has effectively kept Mario away from me, Capcom has swept Mega Man under the rug, Konami has more-or-less torched itself, and I was never big enough on the collectathon-types to be hyped for the likes of Yooka Laylee. But Sonic Generations ranks with Mass Effect 2 and Dark Souls as one of the previous generation’s few bright spots, while the upcoming Sonic Mania and Sonic Forces have me genuinely excited.

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In which I receive a prestigious award

Medieval Otaku has recently bequeathed me yet another one of these award things. The rules seem pretty familiar:

  1. Thank the person that nominated you and leave a link to their blog
  2. Share 7 facts about yourself
  3. Nominate at most 15 people
  4. Tell your nominees the good news!

So let’s get this started: thanks, Medieval Otaku!

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I take back everything I said AAA gaming is terrible

I don’t like The Witcher 3. It’s a shame, because the thing is one of the most technically impressive games I’ve seen and has gotten a billion awards and rave reviews. But it also gathers together some tendencies in pop culture that viscerally rub me the wrong way.

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Suns, long and short

For the past few months I’ve worked my way through Gene Wolfe’s Book of the Short sun, only recently finishing the final volume, and thus finally wrapping up his whole Solar Cycle which began with The Book of the New Sun, and Continued with The Book of the Long Sun. The short story of it is that I liked the Short Sun the least of the three, but still enjoyed it a fair amount.

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