Monthly Archives: December 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

MV5BMTkwNzAwNDA4N15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTA2MDcwNzE@._V1__SX1859_SY847_I’ll start off slowly, but with matters of import nevertheless. It was weird, the lack of 20th Century Fox fanfare. 38 years and six movies worth, you know? Plus, for ages upon ages, these were the only movies to play the extended fanfare. I could be in a Blockbuster any time in the ’90s and know to at worst a coin toss not only that it was in the trilogy but which specific movie was coming on, by halfway through the trumpets. So, definitely weird to feel the lack. That said, Disney had enough respect for the ceremony of the thing not to replace it with their own studio logo and jingle. I hope that carries through, but even if it’s only this once: good on you, $Disney_Exec.

For the rest… man, it’s hard to say what I want to say without spoilers. Maybe impossible. I’ll minimize the damage as much as I can until the comments, but if you want to leave now and see the movie (the 30% of America that hasn’t already by now, I mean) without reading the rest, all I’ll say is, damn. Yes. Go see it, and see it with no fear. The Force Awakens is a Star Wars movie, and if you like those, you’ll like this.

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The Bazaar of Bad Dreams

81fc9NgRyuLThis is the first King short story collection I’ve really liked in quite a while. My first instinct is to claim it’s because the last couple, I had seen a lot of the stories in other publications, and so they were old hat to me. But then I think, no, I’ve read other, older collections lately and my familiarity with those stories bred no contempt. Plus, also, I’d already read a handful of these as well.

So, what makes The Bazaar of Bad Dreams a return to form? Man, I wish I knew. I’m so terrible at reviewing short story collections; it is pretty much my greatest weakness as a reviewer[1]. But here’s what I’ll do. Looking at the table of contents to refresh myself[2], I remember and actively like more than half the stories. Ur (originally published as a Kindle exclusive and which only briefly flirted with being a paid advertisement, right at the beginning) has possibly the coolest conceit a consumer of fiction could imagine, but even the stories whose ideas did not blow me away, I am nodding in fond memory of.

Or maybe he caught me on a good day. But I’m pretty sure this is a solid collection instead.

[1] Well, besides inability to get paid and sometimes falling days or weeks behind on reviews. Not this time, though. I finished the book in line for Star Wars, and I’m writing the review in line for Star Wars. (This should not be taken as a contractual obligation to provide a timely Star Wars review. ….but maybe?)
[2] The book took me most of a month to read, which is a reflection on how well I’ve been reading lately and not on the book. I mean, short stories have natural breakpoints between them, y’know?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2

MV5BMzg4OTcxNzAyNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwOTc4MTEyNjE@._V1__SX1859_SY847_You know the drill by now. Some people trapped in a dystopic nightmare got tired of sending their kids off to the annual deathmatch, and once Jennifer Lawrence came along and showed them that the Capitol could be defied through the power of teamwork, they all came together to act on this new knowledge / long-standing grievance.

Other than mentioning the second act’s surplus of death traps[1], anything at all I could discuss about the plot would be a spoiler, so I’ll just say that the second half of Mockingjay’s adaptation continued to deliver on the promise of the rest of the series: to remain as faithful as possible to the original story while jettisoning everything that held it to the level of teen melodrama rather than realizing its potential greatness. I don’t know that I’ve ever said, “Naah, just go watch the movie.”

[1] Because if you can’t have teens killing each other, you can at least still have the environment trying to kill a lot of folks to make up for it; this is still a Hunger Games movie, after all!


MV5BNDc0ODk4MjMzNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjU3NzkzNzE@._V1__SX1859_SY893_Bavarian Alps folklore speaks of a being who, rather than merely dumping coal into stockings, takes a more… biblical approach to the annual judgment of naughty children. Fast forward a few hundred years and cross an ocean to where the super-jerky versions of the Griswolds and their in-laws are preparing to deck the halls and/or each other in stereotypical horrible family style, and who wouldn’t expect Krampus to drop in for a visit? Well, besides most of these folks, and boy are they in for a shock!

The confusing thing about this movie is that by all rights it should be terrible. It felt like, and bear with me here, because this next statement defies legitimacy. It felt like Troll 2, except if that movie had a talented acting pool and a script that made sense. To which there are three possible responses, I think. Lack of reference knowledge, disbelief in the possibility of those words existing in that order, or realization of what very high praise that is, in the unlikely world where it’s possible to be said. Mostly, if you’re lucky, lack of reference knowledge.

Long story short: as Christmas horror goes, this rises well above the pack. I don’t even resent the PG-13 rating, except for how it would have allowed more realistic language if rated R.