Monthly Archives: May 2013

Bioshock Infinite

I have been having a very hard time reacting to Bioshock Infinite. As a story, it was beautiful and compelling and I spent every moment from beginning to end wanting to know more. As a game, it was, well, rather a lot like Bioshock, with a few interesting differences. And a few unfortunate ones, it must be noted. The inability to have a save game and instead only be allowed to wait for when the game decides to save for you is… mostly not so bad, but when it was bad (I’d like to go to sleep now, not in 15 minutes; I’d like to be able to restore and do this fight a different way), it was pretty terrible. Still, as flaws go, they had a good reason for it and it was nowhere near a showstopper.

Unfortunately, I got about two lines into the next paragraph before I realized that I have to play this one too close to the vest to be worth a whole lot. But I can give you the premise in broad strokes, I suppose: Booker Dewitt, down and out private detective, has been sent to Columbia, a city in the sky, with one haunting directive: “Bring us the girl and wipe away the debt.” Well, okay, there are one or two more directives, but they wouldn’t mean anything much to you until you were playing anyway. I would quickly add that he discovers nothing is as it seems, but let’s be honest, he just magically appeared in a floating city in the clouds in 1912, I think you probably already knew that part. I think he probably already knew that part already! Okay, the rest is behind the cut. Continue reading

Iron Man 3

MV5BMTkzMjEzMjY1M15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNTMxOTYyOQ@@._V1__SX1217_SY887_Well, it’s summer.

What’s the point, you ask, of seeing a summer blockbuster on opening weekend and yet not reviewing it much sooner than Monday morning? I have two answers. One, I do this for me also, you realize. Two, though, is because public reviewers are completely untrustworthy. Case in point, the Fresh Air review of this movie? I can’t say for certain whether my head would have been spinning with possibilities if I had heard it before I saw the movie, but at least one point raised in that review[1] not only definitively was a spoiler right after the reviewer promised not to spoil anything, but was a spoiler that I predicted he would drop, and in exactly the way he did it. For shame, David Edelstein!

But enough about him, and more about the movie. I cannot say exactly what was wrong with Iron Man 2. It wasn’t bad, by any means, but, as I said before, there was something just slightly not quite there to it. So, the good news is, Iron Man 3 was entirely there. The army of flunky villains was suitable comicky and menacing, Pepper Potts got some solid moments not being a damsel in distress, Kingsley’s take on the Mandarin was superb[2], and for possibly the first time in movie history, the plucky young sidekick trope worked.

But, as always, Robert Downey, Jr. was why you paid the price of admission. In a way, this is true of all Marvel comics. (That sounds like a grinding gearshift, but bear with me, it’s not.) Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby came up with a lot of really cool characters, and it is awesome to watch them swing around and fire their lasers and smash things and do whatever else they can do, but the reason they’re so very good is because Tony Stark and Peter Parker and Bruce Banner are really interesting people with really compelling problems, and the very best issues are the ones where the characters spend as much time in their primary identities as possible.

Hmmm. I wonder what’s out next week.

[1] Obviously I’m not going to give enough information about what he spoiled to spoil it my own self, but trust me, it was relevant information.
[2] I have incorrectly indicated a few times on the internet for sure and probably elsewhere that Marvel’s original Mandarin was not Chinese. I’m wrong, he was half-Chinese and half-British. Do with that information what you will.

The Boys: Get Some

Lastly, I read the second book in The Boys series. Considering that I’ve also finally started reading old Marvel comics again (April, 1978 presently), three graphic novels between every book may very well be too many comics in a row. ‘Cause, I mean, jeeze. I was actually getting tired of the whole shebang last night, and I don’t think it was because I disliked Get Some.

For one thing, Ennis seems to have listened (through time!) to my complaints about the presentation of homophobia in the prior volume. The book is still 100% definitely written (as the name perhaps implies) for teenage boys smoking behind the dumpster[1], but at least the joint got classed up a bit. The downside is that this series feels really episodic, at least right now. Yes, there’s no question that an arc exists, and in the style of Joss Whedon where every episode has some callback to either the ongoing plot arc or ongoing character arcs rather than the Chris Carter style where three times a year the Smoking Man shows up in the credits and you can multitask through every other episode. And I was okay with both episodes presented in this book (although the Batman / Nightwing knock-off was pretty trite overall), but after how excited I was to see multiple sides of the “superheroes are all destructive, narcissistic douchebags who need to be controlled, or better yet, killed” argument that was set up last time, having the relevant characters only show up a couple of times on the far end of a phone definitely knocked the wind out of my sails.

Contrariwise, that was the pilot, and these are the early days. Preacher taught me that Garth Ennis can plot big, so he gets a pass for now. (Plus, despite having never smoked behind a dumpster, I am secretly still 13 some of the time.)

[1] Or more likely for the significantly older males in arrested development[2] that said teenage boys eventually become, considering the age warnings that must surely exist on anything Ennis has ever written
[2] This month!