Monthly Archives: April 2014

Divergent Movie

Hello, I’m unicorn. Yes, I know I said I’d bring back Ninja Turtles month, but last night I saw Divergent, and I just had to talk about it.

Well, this isn’t the first time you lied to your readers.

Yeah, yeah. I know, but it isn’t May yet, so I don’t care. Anyway, let’s talk about Divergent. I went into this not completely excited, but with an open mind. My opinion? I think Shredder can summarize it best:

possible meme to use

Owned by IDW

Wow, that’s kinda cold.

Okay, I’ll explain myself in a minute, but first, the plot. In the future, after a mysterious war, the city of Chicago has been divided in into five houses–I mean, factions–based on personality. These factions are Griffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin–er, I mean, Dauntless for courage, Erudite for intelligence, Candor for honesty, Abnegation for selflessness, and Amity for peaceful.  Or as I like to call them: the adrenaline junkies, the nerds, the lawyers, the Amish, and the hippies. The heroine, Beatrice Prior, called Tris,  goes to take the personality test to see which faction she belongs in, but the results are inconclusive. She’s divergent, which threatens the system because she can’t be controlled by the government. She chooses the adrenaline junkies anyway, and must go through training while the nerds plan to take the city from the Amish by using the mind controlled adrenaline junkies. Along the way, she meets friends, is betrayed, and suffers an impressive trauma conga line. I’ve never read the book, so I’ll just review the movie on its own merits.

The Good: The acting was great, and the main heroine was likable. I was glad that she wasn’t perfect at everything from the start and had to work for a position  in the adrenaline junkie faction. The actress made Tris interesting enough to carry a film. Her sidekicks were also fun. I really liked the lawyer named Christine and the nerd named Will. They both got some pretty good lines in. Come to think of it, a lot of the one liners were pretty good, especially the running gag about Tris’s willingness to shoot people. I just wish there was more snarky humor like that, but when the little levity appeared, it really helped. The dream-like scenes where we went into her mind and saw her greatest fears were really interesting, and I liked the way the city and factions looked. I loved the climax, with her taking the lead in the infiltration of the enemy base. Yay agency!

The Bad: I’m not going to harp on the world, because, according to my little sister, it does get explained. Grant it, the reason is also pretty silly, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there. Besides, there are bigger fish to fry. One of the big issues is the interchangeable characters. For example, one of Tris’s best friends tries to kill her and when he fails, he kills himself, which is tragic, but I didn’t even know his name. My sister had to explain why he suddenly betrayed her. Another example would be Mathias, the love interest’s father. They constantly talked about him and the rumors that he is abusive, with all of the other Amish saying that Mathias would never abuse his son, but I had no idea who they were talking about until the third act. This is the same for practically every other side character. You get the feeling that her mom was going to be an important character and is really close to Tris, but they have maybe ten minutes of screen time put together before she dies. There are just so many characters and none of them are well developed. And don’t even get me started with the implications made by vilifying the nerds. In the eyes of the narrative: scientist=elitist=bad. Let’s talk about the conflict for a second. For the first two thirds of the movie, everything is focused on trying to get into the adrenalin junkies. Then, practically out of nowhere SURPRISE REVOLUTION!!!!! The story randomly goes from character driven with hints at nefarious plots to overthrow the government to trying to overthrow the overthrowing of the government in five minutes. Even though I liked the climax, it still was completely out of nowhere. Now, let’s talk about the biggest problem, the second act. It’s a whole lot of nothing. She becomes an adrenaline junkie initiate, does poorly, slowly gets better, and training, training, and more training. The movie was about two and a half hours, but it felt so much longer because of how repetitive it was. When the finally climax came, it was too little, too late, because I was just waiting for the movie to end.

Overall, my whole feeling on the film is meh. It’s not a bad movie per se, but I definitely don’t want to sit through it again. If you enjoyed the book, you might like it, but my sister said that they left out a lot of important and plot hole filling information. The biggest crime was the boredom that I felt. The majority of the action sequences didn’t have any tension because it was either in her head or a part of training. While the heroine is likable, I found myself wishing that the story was about the more interesting side characters. If I were you, I’d wait until it comes out on Netflix or cable.

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Awoken by Serra Elinson

Hello, I’m a unicorn. In (belated) honor of Easter, I’ve hidden a second review in this one. Read the whole thing through once, then go back and read the underlined bits…

Awoken is certainly something. A part of me really hopes it a parody, because if not, I’m really concerned. The basic plot is that Andromeda (Andi) Slate, the most ordinary and whiny girl in the world, accidentally summons Cthulhu, and he falls in love with her. Instead of destroying the world with his call, he now want to save it, all because of love. If this sounds like Twilight ripoff #4097, you would be rIghT. And I wish I was really making up all of what I am about to say.

The funny thing is, though, the relationship between Edward and Bella is actually healthier than the relationship between Andi and Cthulhu. The obligatory romance is so disturbing, it makes my skin crawl. I’d be here all day and all night if I wanted to deconstruct all that’S wrong with this set up. Cthulhu (called Riley) is horrifyingly possessive and constantly belittles our “heroine”. Literally, every other line of dialogue, he refers to her as “young one”, “tiny one”, “pitiful one”, and my favorite: “itty bitty one”. Andi isn’t much better. Cthulhu becomes all she ever thinks about. She ignores her friends, and whines about everything even though she has it pretty good. Her high school starts classes at 8:25 for Pete’s sake! Sorry. I know this is a weird thing to to fixate on, but seriously? 8:25 am? My high school starts at 7:30. My middle school didn’t even start that late. I would kill to go to her school. Not only that, but she also whines even though she lives in an economically and emotionally stable home, has two friends who stay at her side no matter what, and is really attractive. Needless to say, her woe is me act gets really tired really quickly. She, like all May Sues, suffers from crippling self confidence and believes she is is unworthy of Riley’s love. She blames herself for everything. A group of guys try to assault her? Well, she shouldn’t have worn a bikini to a party, gotten drunk, and wandered off. She also doesn’t care when Riley hurts people, except when she knows them. In the fifth chapter, he drives a kid insane just for being an idiot. All the kid did was throw Andi into a pool, and ruined a book, but he didn’t know she was afraid of water. Her reaction to his insanity? meh. Allow me to say that again. Our “heroine” is perfectly alright with her boy toy causing people to suffer a fate worse than death.

Let’s talk about the villain, Miss Espitola. She, of course is promiscuous, and Andi automatically hates her for no good reason. I, on the other hand, really like her. She’s just so over the top. At the end, when we get to her “master plan”, I’m really reminded of Glory from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Are you kidding. Espitola ain't got nothin' on me. http://www.moley75.co.uk

Are you kidding. Espitola ain’t got nothin’ on me.
http://www.moley75.co.uk

I just wish there was more of her, but instead we got the romantic plot tumor. Since this book hits all, and I do mean all of the YA romance cliches, there are a lot of characters more interesting than the protagonists.  The biggest example would be Uncle Neil, who is hilarious. Of course, Andi, being the whiny, self-centered, boy crazy person that she is, always tuned him out just when he was saying something interesting. The whole book should have been about him and Riley’s less creepy sister, Cleo. Cleo and Uncle Neil randomly showing up at the climax was the best part of the book. Even her best friends are more interesting. Vik, of course, was the ethnic third wheel and the non-psychotic love interest, and Bree was just a lot more entertaining than Andi. It did annoy me, though, that Bree’s every other action was eating. Because she was fat. Ha. Ha. Very clever indirect characterization. The nicest thing I could about that is at least she isn’t self conscious or constantly dieting. Also, for whatever reason, she constantly interjects “wicked” into every other sentence, which, I guess is the way the writer is indicating that Bree is “hip” and “with it”. It’s completely unintentionally hilarious.

Speaking of unintentionally hilarious, let’s talk about the obsession with Phantom of the Opera that this book has. It’s Andi’s favorite book and at one point, they even go to see it on Broadway. The way she romanticizes the creepy relationship between Christine and the Phantom is ripe for unintentional hilarity and melodramatic lines. My favorite reference had to be when Riley dumps Andi like the LEGO brick that she is and she replies, “After all we’ve been through? After  Phantom?” It’s easily one of the best lines in the book. This romanticizing of the original is on par with the belief that Rorschach in Watchmen is meant to be likable, because having read the original, I can tell you, it’s not a romance. Christine and the Phantom don’t even have much of a romance in the musical either, but that’s a fish to fry on another day. Also, note to self: review the Joel Schumaker movie, it may be flawed, but it’s still one of my favorites.

On a different note, let’s talk about the most frustrating part of the book. Much like Twilight and other paranormal romance, all the interesting stuff happens off screen. Instead of the epic battle of Eldrich abominations in the climax, we had Andi with her eyes closed. In universe, it makes sense, but I still wish I’d been able to seen the battle of the Old Ones. 

Overall, this is not recommended. Nothing about it is clever and/or subtle. The protagonist is whiny and unlikable, the relationship is creepy, completely misses the point of the original Lovecraftian mythos,  and I wanted to know more about the side characters than the heroine. I had to keep reminding myself that this is not a parody, because everything is so over the top. Plotwise, there were no surprises. Nothing made me take a step back and think “Well played, Mrs. Elinsen, I did not see that coming”. There is plenty of unintentional hilarity to be found, and it certainly is a quick, mindless read. I knocked this one out in about three days, because, even though it is bad, Awoken is still pretty hard to put down. I honestly don’t know why I picked it up at my library, and I honestly can not say I enjoyed reading it. I will enjoy next month, because Ninja Turtles month returns to celebrate the green machine’s 30th birthday!

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Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Sorry I haven’t been able to be consistent about my posts, but Inter-dimensional hopping tends to make you lose track of time, (plus I have lots of homework). But, for now I’m back, and you know who else is back? Captain America! Three years after his first movie, and two years after The Avengers, he’s back, baby. After the attack on New York, Cap is living a relatively quiet life in Washington DC, and is now working SHIELD’s special operations, but when an attempt is made on Nick Fury’s life by someone from Cap’s past, it is up to him, Black Widow, and an ex soldier named Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, to uncover the truth behind SHIELD’s less than savory operations. Intrigued?

Maybe. Will Captain America and Black Widow ride unicorns through a field of chimichangas?

What? Um… no. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t happen.

Then I want nothing to do with it.

Fine. Then I guess I’ll just break it down to the good and the bad without you.

The Good: This movie pretty much lives up to the standard that Marvel has established with its movies. It has great humor, great acting, and great action. I really loved the brother and sister dynamic between Black Widow and Cap. Their pairing was perfect, with Cap being your standard good guy, and Widow being the one trying to break him out of his 1940’s sensibilities. They complemented each other really well. Falcon and Cap shared the camaraderie of two ex-soldiers trying to adjust to a new life and find a place in the world. The plot had a lot of really intriguing themes, such as freedom versus security and how far the government should go to make the world safe. The first half of the movie was relatively gritty and realistic, without being depressing, but unfortunately…

The Bad: The second half got really silly. How silly? How about uploading someone’s mind to a computer during the seventies aka back when Internet and fast processing were the ideas of dreamers? Yeah, that was pretty silly. As the climax of the film came to a crescendo, things got more and more insane, ending with three helicarriers crashing into the Potomac river, which is still near a very heavily populated area of DC. Oops. Another silly moment would have to be when every SHIELD agent believes Cap when he tries to warn them about traitors even though they’ve been hunting him for the past hour of the movie. This, I can excuse though, because when Captain-freaking-America tells you to do something, you’d do it, because he is just that awesome. Also, let’s talk about shakycam. I think that by now you know that shakycam is one of my least favorite styles of cinematography when done poorly. Here, shakycam was overused and not done well. In the interest of fairness, I will say that it improves later on, but in the first action scene, I could barely tell what was happening, the camera was moving so much. This is especially noticeable in the hand to hand combat scenes, where I had no idea what was happening. Like I said though, it does get better. My final issue is that the Winter Soldier, for being the title character, doesn’t play a huge role in the plot, and I feel that this is a missed opportunity. The character could have created a powerful dilemma and drama for Cap, and while its mentioned in passing, the character doesn’t pack the literal and metaphorical punch he should have.

Overall, this is is a great movie and definitely worth a watch. The acting is great, the action sequences were cool, and there were some genuinely funny moments. This is definitely one of the better entries of the Marvel movie universe. Wouldn’t you agree Textbox?

I’m just waiting for a Deadpool movie.

Well, there’s always X-Men Origins: Wolver–

I told you never to speak of it!

Oooh, I am so maybe going to review that. Anyway, what are you waiting for? Watch The Winter Soldier now!

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Just the Story

“What happened here?” Kirin asked as she knelt down to pick up a shard of the mirror. Her voice echoed in the empty whiteness.

“It ate my world. The whole thing,” Textbox answered grimly. She stood up.

“How did you survive?” She heard Textbox sigh.

“You know how Deadpool knows that he’s fictional? Well, that power has the perks of being able to know about when a cataclysmic, world ending event will happen. I knew It was coming, so I fled before It could come.”

“I didn’t know that Deadpool could sense when disasters were going to happen.” She examined the shard of the mirror. It must have been the window to that universe, much like the one she saw when she first entered the inter-dimensional highway.

“It’s a weird thing. We know about events that affect our world that happen outside of it.”

“So you’re not with the main Marvel universe? I’m only asking because there are still ongoing Marvel comics in my universe, so is there a main universe where these stories come from, or…” Kirin wondered aloud.

“Look, all I know is that It destroyed my homeworld. I don’t know or care about that other stuff,” Textbox cut her off.

“Sorry. What is “It”, exactly?” Kirin asked.

“Bad. Like a giant cloud that destroys worlds in the blink of an eye bad. Worse than Thanos and Galactus combined. Never saw it and I don’t want to. Now, let’s go.”  Unbeknownst to Kirin, a shadow slowly encroached on her.

“What? No. You’re finally giving me answers and now you want to go?” Kirin argued. She felt the ground beneath her rumble.

“Go?”

“Go.” Suddenly, she was being shaken like a ragdoll again as nauseating technicolor lights blinded her. It finally stopped just before she was about to vomit. Once again, she was knocked to the ground. “Man, I really hate that,” she grumbled.

“Tell me about it,” Eli said, he and Lilly standing over her. He offered her his hand. She took it gratefully and stood up.  They were once again in an area where the planets revolved overhead, and the night sky was peppered with stars. Another mirror stood in front of them, this one adorned with lion and unicorn gilding, and there was rope trailing out of the glass.

“What happened? Where’d you guys go?” she asked. The two shrugged.

“One minute, we were examining the portal, the next, we were sucked in and sent flying all around wherever this is,” Lilly replied. Eli nodded.

“This place is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. There were so many worlds. Even I didn’t know there were so many of them. What about you?” Eli said.

“Well, we heard someone yell and came in after you–” Kirin began.

“But we took a wrong turn in Albuquerque and got lost,” Textbox cut her off. Kirin looked into the image in the mirror and saw her basement.

“Well, it looks like we’re home, now how do we get in?” she muttered to herself.

“Oh, that’s easy. See the unicorn in the top center? Just press on it and repeat after me,” Textbox replied. Kirin pressed on the unicorn. The image in the glass began to swirl. “Euras notbal.”

“Euras not–hey! Oh, real cute Textbox. Glad you’re back to you charming self,” Kirin grumbled as she walked into the mirror. Lilly and Eli snickered and followed after her. The basement looked exactly like she had left it. The clock read 3:34 pm, exactly the time which she had entered the portal. “Well, today certainly was strange. Do you guys wanna run more tests or what?” she asked them. They both gave her a look of absolute horror.

“I think we’d better go, what about you Eli?” Lilly answered. They quickly made their way to the staircase.

“Yeah, I think so. Call us if there’s any changes,” Eli telled as they both rushed upstairs. Kirin heard the front door slam.

“Well, okay then. Hey I still have time to write up a review before dinner. What’do say Textbox?” she said as she headed upstairs.

“Thought you’d never ask.”  The wall swirled briefly and a shadow spread across the room. It made its way to the darkest corner and sat, waiting. For what? The shadow didn’t know, but it knew that it had to bide its time.

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Swamp Thing Volume 4: A Murder of Crows

“Do you trust me?” Textbox asked. Kirin crossed her arms.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Kirin said, visibly annoyed. Her body stood tense, preparing to argue with him.

“You didn’t answer mine. Do you trust me?”  Textbox repeated. The worry in her voice made her pause.

“You’re serious, aren’t you?” she marveled. She’d never heard him sound so grim.

“Yes,” Textbox replied. Kirin uncrossed her arms and relaxed, but didn’t smile. She took a deep breath.

“I trust you Textbox, but what’s wrong? You haven’t been your usual annoying self lately,” she asked concerned for her friend.

“I should just show you, but first, I need you to review something,” Textbox instructed. Kirin’s jaw dropped.

“You want me to do what? Textbox, our friends our missing. They could need out help. We’re caught in some sort of dimensional highway with no idea how to find them, and you want me to review something?” she asked incredulously.

“Yep. Pretty much. And I have just the thing for you to review.”

Hello, I’m a unicorn, and Textbox, is this really necessary?

For the forty-sixth time Kirin, yes, it is. This will give you an idea of what we’re up against.

You’re not wasting my time like you did with TMNT#16?

Absolutely not, now get to summarizing.

Okay, so Alec Holland is a scientist studying the swamp in the hopes of finding a bio-restorative formula when an explosion goes off in the lab, and he is covered in burning chemicals. He instinctively runs into the swamp, but when the flame is put out, but it isn’t Holland that rises out of the primordial ooze. Instead, it’s the Swamp Thing, a plant elemental with all the memories of Holland. Well, that’s the gist of the character’s origins. In this volume, we find the Swamp Thing nearing the end of a journey of self discovery with the Occult Detective, John Constantine. He is trying to understand the nature of evil after seeing so much of it on his journey with Constantine. Meanwhile, the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths are occurring and an evil society of male witches known as the Brujeria plot to destroy heaven with a chaotic entity so ancient it precedes time itself and so large that it is beyond understanding. It is up to the two, along with Etrigan, the Phantom Stranger, Deadman, the Spectre, Zatanna, Sargon the Sorcerer, Dr. Fate, and other mages and occultists to prevent this evil from destroying everything. Being a trade collection, there are other stories, my personal favorites being Windfall and Ghost Dance. Ghost Dance is especially entertaining if you have heard of the Winchestor House, which I highly recommend looking up because the history of that house is fascinating.

Overall, this is very, very highly recommended especially if you are a fan of horror comics. This book is, in a word, amazing which is to be expected from this legendary team. The artwork, by Stan Woch and Ron Randall, is great, and it’s beautifully written by Alan Moore, the genius behind Watchmen, V for Vendetta, among other stories mentioned in documentaries on the history of comics. I will warn you though, this book is not for the faint of heart, or the weak of stomach. It is full of terrifying imagery and nightmare fuel galore. But if you feel that you are brave enough to face the horrors of humanity and the gods, what are you waiting for? Read it now, but be warned, if answers are what you seek, they may be “black and unbearable”.

“Don’t I know it,” Kirin muttered as she finished reading the comic. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” she asked Textbox.

“Shh. It might hear you,”  Textbox warned. “Even talking about it will get its attention, so untie the rope. I need to show you something.”

“What? Are you crazy? How would we know how to get home?” Kirin protested.

“I am, in fact, bonkers, but you’ll just have to trust me,” Textbox replied.

“Yeah, that’s really comforting,” Kirin muttered ash she untied the rope. She felt the familiar pull at her naval, and felt herself be yanked around like a rag doll. Blinding colors filled her vision, and she felt dizzy. When it finally stopped, Kirin fell to her knees.

“Still not fun,” she gasped. She stood up unsteadily and looked around. Instead of the brightly colored planets and stars against the night sky, there was nothing but whiteness. In front of her, there was the outline of a shattered mirror. “Textbox, where are we?” she asked.

“My home planet.”

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