Monthly Archives: August 2008

Ultimate Spider-Man: Legacy

In fact, I started a completely different book than this, but I accidentally left it at home and then vanished for the weekend. In addition to being so far behind, I’m definitely finding that the mixing around of these books has contributed to my inability to review things at all well right now. I certainly hope this doesn’t happen again, but my work schedule being so non-conducive to internet activities is a thing that will be mostly over now. (Downside: I certainly can’t write reviews at work anymore, as I’m way too damn busy. This has both positives and negatives, one latter of which has been clearly demonstrated today.)

So, anyway, in Legacy, Spider-Man discovers that his arch-enemy, the Green Goblin, is still alive. And awesome things happen, in the realm of fightings and psychological warfare and unexpected revelations about Peter’s place in the larger world and potential romantic triangles. Thinking about it now, it feels like a set-up book that will have long-term repercussions for the development of the series, but at the time, it felt like action-filled comic mayhem. Which is to say, it did both things, and did them both well. How many books in the middle of a series can say that?

Dragons of the Highlord Skies

I am four books behind right now, until I finish this review. On the bright side, that won’t take long because, on the less bright side, I’m having a really hard time to holding onto reviewable information about Dragons of the Highlord Skies. I mean, it’s another DragonLance book set concurrently with the second one from the original trilogy, in which the knights and the elf chick fight a war at the South Pole while the evil chick struggles to improve or maintain her rank within the evil armies. Both stories are pretty decent examples of what I like about the series in general: sympathetic characters, occasional comedy, good action. Mythic resonance, not so much, but that never works right when rehashing old events that have previously been mentioned off-screen.

The framing device kind of sucked, and I hope they don’t use it again for the third book. But other than that, it’s still basically recommendable for fans of old-school Weis & Hickman.

Tropic Thunder

A little while back, I had a brief period in which I found myself out of work. It was pretty hard. I lived out of my car for something like half the time, spent some time in theaters watching movies “for free”, hit a bar for the kind of beer-drinking that only the out-of-work can really experience. You know how it is. Eventually, I got back on my feet, slept in an actual bed, and then I had to get up ridiculously early the next morning to start my new job. (And since then, I have been way too busy to write anything, for ages without end. Which explains this two week delay, you see.)

This is the story of that movie.

So, anyway, free preview, right? I glanced at it, then decided I had to work and couldn’t go and promptly forgot about it. Except then someone besides me wanted to go and other people got involved and my last day had slightly shifted hours, such that I ultimately was able to, plus it was free, right? Yay, Studio Movie Grill! A reasonably short-lived line followed by a good long sit-around eating buffet pizza and drinking moderately buffet Shiner later, Tropic Thunder started.

The premise really fails to capture it. Three successful actors are trying to break out of their pigeonholes by making a Saving Private Ryanesque true-life story of a rescued soldier escaping from Vietnam, but problems with egos and the budget are quickly making a hash of things. So the director decides to drop them into the jungle to film the middle portion of the movie Blair Witch style, with some cameras scattered around the forest for most of the shots and the director shadowing the for the rest. Only, the part of the jungle they land in is being used to grow and process drugs, and the natives are not too happy to find “heavily-armed” intruders in their midst. Also, Tom Cruise played a role that indicates every once in a while he remembers he’s a decent actor with a sense of humor, and not just the face of Scientology. Wacky hilarity ensues!

This sounds no more than a mile north of totally dumb, I know. But in practice, I have not laughed so hard at a movie in ages. If you like things that are funny, you should go see it. In the meantime, though, something pretty awesome happened at the theater. Ryan and Laurell and I were having a discussion about gender disparities launched when a male member of the waitstaff set the first pitcher of beer down in front of her. We ultimately concluded that (in the heteronormative world), people with penises and people with vaginas are in competition for scarce resources, and that if our waitress had brought the beer instead, she would likely have (unconsciously?) given it to one of the guys instead of the girl. None of which would be all that interesting to relate, except that a woman at the table in front of us finally got fed up with all of our foul, penis-ridden language and asked us if we knew that there were children here, indicating the 14 year-old next to her. Although I personally believe that a girl of that age has likely heard the word before (and in equally conversational contexts; we were being uncouth neither in topic nor actual verbiage), it was a point well-taken about how some people don’t want to expose themselves to such topics in some contexts, and I felt a little bad; I think we all did.

That is, until we remembered and later observed that this was an R-rated movie with all manner of violent, sexually-topical, and otherwise far more inappropriate material than anything occurring in our conversation. Jack Black, in particular, made reference to a penis (though I am forced to admit that he never used the dreaded word itself) that I actually think I would be leery of having a 14 year-old hear. Our heroic parent and/or guardian, of course, took her delicate child out of the theater within five minutes of the opening reel, once she realized what a mistake she’d made. Because that would be the only logical decision after having made such a scene in the theater a mere half an hour previously. Right? RIGHT?