Tag Archives: the fate of the world

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Remember what happened in Transformers? Me neither, so I’ll join you in reading that review before I proceed. Yeah, right, okay, no new giant robots, missing Allspark, etc. Anyway, I know they had a happy ending in which the bad guy was vanquished and I guess the Allspark bit it, so no more giant robots? Except: now there’s a new bad guy that’s even badder and more important than Megatron, except we’ve never heard of him before. Which, okay, fine. And the giant robots have been on Earth for 17,000 years instead of showing up when their Allspark crash-landed by random chance. Which seems maybe less plausible?[1] And they have a new plan for making giant robots, although it technically involves the death of every living thing on the planet. Lucky it’s the giant robots having this debate; if it was humans who needed to destroy Cybertron to perpetuate our species, the giant robots would all be toast before you could finish Clapping Off.

Still, Transformers 2 was a pretty good movie. Megan Fox remains hot and occasionally runs in slow motion. There were a lot more tiny robots, the same amount of giant robots[2], a few distressingly racistly-typed robots[3] to detract from that, and at least two ancient robots. The military dudes were acceptably military, the conspiracy dude was John Turturro, and he’s generally good, right? And Shia LeBeouf was that young guy that gets lots of big roles for teenagers in movies these days; whether that is deserved, I choose not to speculate.[4] Plus, another cosmic-scale plot. So, yeah. Michael Bay has done quite well, here, putting together a solid, entertaining, explosions-filled movie filled with only a few missteps. Ninety minutes’ worth of adrenaline, entertainment and such, and through the art of movie magic, skillful casting, and blindingly-talented script oversight, he was able to cram that ninety minutes of entertaining film, with I’m sure no small amount of effort, down into a mere two and half hours of screen time.

Oops. Still, the good movie is in there, if you want to dig for it and can let your lizard brain be entertained by explosions, overt racism, and Megan Fox in the meantime.

[1] I grant the possibility that I missed some explanation for this during the first reel. But I’m pretty sure not.
[2] Though they look distressingly similar in robot form
[3] I could have gotten past the accents and attitudes with little more than an eye roll, but buckteeth, and one of them gold? You’ve got to be shitting me. I mean, seriously.
[4] Clearly, starring opposite Megan Fox is not deserved, though. I mean, it’s possible she’s going to be the better actor of the two of them in another year or so, which just indicates what I’m trying to say here.

Ultimate Fantastic Four: Salem’s Seven

I’m not sure if it happens more often in some titles than others, nor whether I am noticing more often than I used to, but it’s definitely the case that some Ultimate storylines revolve around bringing back and/or reinventing heroes and villains from the original Marvel run. Sometimes this is fine, because it’s someone I want to see, and other times it’s iffy, because it’s someone I never have seen, but there’s an implication I should know all about them and resultingly a little bit too much character background is left out. Salem’s Seven was one of the best outcomes, however, wherein I’d never heard of them before, and yet the story they were brought into was entirely engrossing and entertaining.

There’s not much to tell plotwise that wouldn’t drift into spoiler territory, but this reminded me a lot of old school Fantastic Four, wherein all kinds of plot elements were thrown together just to see what would happen. You’ve got our heroes and their interpersonal issues, you’ve got a ridiculously sexy S.H.I.E.L.D. psychologist on a mission to determine the viability of the Baxter Building and its many projects, you’ve got a new batch of superheroes out of, implausibly, Salem, Oregon, you’ve got the return of Namor, and you’ve got yet another world-ending threat. This is what the Fantastic Four is (are?) all about, yo.

A Game of Thrones

thrones22To my very great surprise, my most recent book has been the opening entry in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, A Game of Thrones. What with my dad so much out of it via his time in the hospital, we needed something to do while visiting. I eventually started reading the series to him, figuring that he’d like it and also that it would give me a chance to catch up in time (well, okay, not exactly, but sort of) for the most recent volume.

But, the unexpected part is where I finished it so quickly. In fact, it read fast, and the politicking is sufficiently pleasant that I didn’t very much mind the relative lack of frozen zombies. (They are, after all, both the point and the pay-off.) But I get ahead of myself. What we’ve got here is a story about the end of the world, not by fire but by ice. Specifically, the undead Others from the polar north are on the verge of emerging for the first time in 8000 years to destroy the world of men. Only, nobody in the world of men is particularly aware or concerned; after all, there is power to be won, and money, and most importantly, a crown.

Westeros is a brutal land, but also an honest one. All too rarely do people get what they deserve; instead, they get what they can grasp and hold onto with their own two hands, and the penalty for a reach which exceeds that grasp can be dire indeed. And so the question becomes, can the honorable old Stark family of the North, the gold- and power-hungry Lannisters, the last daughter of a usurped throne, and all the men of Westeros settle vast gulfs of difference before Winter has come?

Thematically, it shares a lot with Jordan’s series. The goal appears to be to demonstrate exactly how divided man can be from man, and still manage to pull together in time to save the world. He outpaces Jordan in that mistakes have real consequences to actual characters in the storyline, not merely to the faceless masses. Prosewise, his errors are less glaring but nearly as annoying as Jordan’s can be. Or maybe it’s my own peeve, but quite frequently I’ll see the same word twice in a sentence or consecutive ones. Repetitive word choice drives me crazy. On the whole, though, excellent start to a series that appears to be over halfway through right now, and that continues to show a great deal of promise.

Final Fantasy

Over the past several months, I’ve played Final Fantasy (with intentions to play the other ones, eventually) as my tiny-TV-in-bed time-waster of choice. The amazing part is that I actually got around to finishing it, just last night. Well, it’s not that amazing. I am a jobless bum with no real prospects, since my marketable skills have been eroded over the past three years of getting paid a king’s ransom not to use them.

…but it’s possible that this is not about that. Um. Where was I? Right, the game. I’ve been reading 8-bit Theater for lo these many years, and once I realized they were re-releasing the game, I got it in my head to play as the characters from the comic. Then, I played it for a while. Then, I didn’t. Then, after I got unenjobbed, I returned to it, and after a quick walkthrough to remind me of the dungeon I was in the middle of, I got back to plugging away at it. It is mindless, but certainly entertaining. Even with cleaned up translations of the spells and people’s speech patterns, it still makes barely a lick of sense. But at the end of the day, the world was saved, so that’s pretty cool.

Also: unlike any other Final Fantasy game (well, that I know of; I admit that my knowledge in this regard is limited), there are no chocobos. This alone makes it the most awesome thing ever for the whole of the minute or two that you’ve spent reading just now, not to mention the minute or ten I’ve spent typing. I mean, just imagine it. A world with no chocobos! It would be fairly breathtaking, but luckily we are blessed by other video games who have never heard of such a beast, on even the quietest winds of rumor. But if we weren’t, man. People would be lining up to play this game over and over again, just to avoid that terrible fate.

Or, maybe it’s just me with the chocobo aversion.

War of the Worlds

Spielberg has still got it. …well, sort of. If you want a special effects-laden summer extravaganza, of the type that Jerry Bruckheimer will try to sell you every year or so, Spielberg is definitely the top tier guy. From the moment Tom Cruise sees figurative storm clouds on the horizon until nearly the moment that the credits roll, well, critics use words like eye-popping, and I have to say that it applies. War of the Worlds is probably the prettiest film you’ll see all year. (Yes, Star Wars, but the fact is that it’s nothing Lucas hasn’t accomplished before, and yes, Serenity, but Whedon doesn’t have that kind of budget, and furthermore, his primary focus has never been on popping the eyes.)

If you can easily read between the lines, stop here, because I’ll end up spoiling the movie’s conclusion for you. Here’s the downside: The man has gotten maudlin and sentimental, and castrates the movie in the last non-narrated frames. Technically, I suppose I should blame the script-writer, but I’m not gonna, because Spielberg should know better than to have agreed to that part.

Child actor watch: I predict that Dakota Fanning has more Anna Paquin in her career-future than she has Haley Joel Osment, if you see what I mean.


The thing about buddy action-adventure flicks is: hard to talk about. Because, we’ve seen it all before. In Sahara‘s case, it’s James Bond (they nearly always are), but if he had retired from the secret service to become a deep-sea diver, and also if he had made friends with some guy at some point in his life.

The rest of it is exactly what you’d expect. Is there a pretty girl in danger because she’s stumbled across a secret that could threaten the fate of the world? Is there a power-mad industrialist willing to protect that secret at any cost? Is there a boss somewhere that wants the world safe, of course, but wishes his stuff would not get destroyed quite so often? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, then there are more seminal works that you ought to see instead. If you do, though, this one is pretty good. They found the right balance of drama, comedy, and explosions. Plus, there’s a civil war treasure hunt, just to add a new flavor for the palate.

This Dirk Pitt guy seems alright. If I can figure out what the first book of the series is, I’ll probably pay Half Price Books a visit and attack the stories from multiple angles. The problem being, my to-read shelf is failing to get smaller. You’d think with the moving and packing things up, I’d have a little bit more discretion. Well, maybe you wouldn’t, but I really thought I would. In fact, though: I would not.