Game fuel

Have we all seen this commercial advertising the “World of Warcraft”-branded Mountain Dew?

Okay, in case YouTube is down the gag is that two women (it MUST be said, btw, that they’re both in waaaaaaaay too good of shape to plausibly be THIS into either Mountain Dew or WOW) each buying one of the two flavors (red for Horde, blue for Alliance) recognize this fact, covertly draw big-ass medieval weapons and try to surprise-attack one-another, eventually morphing into their respective in-game avatars and going at it all over the store. Cute.

I submit to you that a 90-minute narrative expanding on this scenario is the only reasonable way for a “Warcraft” movie to work. (Or, at least, work WITHOUT just being Lord of The Rings in vastly less-practical costuming.) IMO, sometimes that’s the key to these things – find a way to film what makes the property “work” rather than just the (typically-rote) mythos attached to it. See also: A movie about “Magic: The Gathering” ought to be built around various wizard/despot guys amassing armies to conquer big chunks of forest, lake etc. land in order to make their magic work better – until, of course, one of them messes with The Wrong Guy’s Village 😉

"You put it together…"

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I’m about the only guy left on the web who still thinks “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” has a fair chance of being good. I’d say the chances have only gotten BETTER recently – at this point, it can’t possibly be WORSE than it’s most-logical competition in “Transformers 2;” so objectively all it’s gotta do is be better than… I dunno, “MegaForce?” What exactly is the gold-standard for paramilitary super-soldier scifi actioners at this point?

Eh, we’ll see soon enough. For now, as far as I’m concerned, if the ONLY good thing to come out of this movie is this gloriously “retro” commercial for the film’s tie-in action figures, it’ll almost be worth it:

C’mon, admit it: How nifty is that?

If I’d waited one more day, no one would’ve hated me…

So, yesterday I tossed out all my geek street-cred by coming out as “I’d be okay with this” in regards to the rumors that Justin Timberlake was on the short-list to play The Green Lantern…

…as it turns out, nobody needed to get worked-up about anything either way. Regardless of whether Timberlake was ever on “the list” or not, Green Lantern will apparently be played by Ryan Reynolds:

This will be met with near-universal acclaim and celebration by the film-geek set, of which I will have no trouble joining in. How much do nerds love Ryan Reynolds? Well, he participated in Blade 3, the desecration of “Deadpool” in the Wolverine movie, he appears largely in romantic comedies otherwise… and we DON’T hate him. That makes him damn near invincible. WHY do nerds love Ryan Reynolds? Well, because he openly gives the impression that he’s “one of us” only much more handsome and successful, which makes him a first-class foil for projected self-image (see also: Bruce Campbell, Nathan Fillion.) For my part, I’m in debt to Reynolds because every film role he takes is a role that DIDN’T go to Dane Cook – in THAT respect, the man is doing the lord’s work.

“So,” some of you may be asking “that was WAY too fast to not have been mostly decided already; so why the business about Timberlake?” Who knows, really. But if a Z-lister internet film-commentator had to guess (and I do) I’d say it was a quick attempt to “work the web” – i.e. freaking the geek-set out with rumors of a choice most of them were bound to hate (“ZOMG! A pop-star my sister likes playing a DC hero!!??”) in order to make the “good” real casting sound that much better.

Either way, while I stand by the notion that Timberlake would’ve been a good choice, there’s no question that Reynolds is among the best anyone could hope for in the age-range that Warners was going to limit itself to for this role. For those not ultra-familiar with this particular franchise (but who still read this far) the version of Green Lantern apparently being done here is named Hal Jordan – a fearless-to-the-point-of-cocky US Army test-pilot who gets drafted as the Earth-jurisdiction arm of The Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic police force who’s agents fight spacecrime with magic rings that can create any object or image the wearer has the will and imagination to conjur. Can you see Reynolds being good in that? I can.

As for Timberlake… frankly, I hope both his “people” and various casting entities were paying attention to the fact that this “rumor” wasn’t met with anything NEAR the bile anyone was expecting – I actually wasn’t so “alone” in this at all, it turns out. Evidently, the “he’s okay” blessing of nerd-demigod Andy Samberg was enough to make Timberlake palatable for a lot of people, in which case… hey, not for nothing, but his comic timing and substantial physical skills (ANYONE who can dance that well has action chops, plain and simple. I bet Fred Astaire lost very few fights in his day) would make him one terrific Barry “The Flash” Allen 😉

Experiment: Reading through "Twilight" (no, really) Part 4

(NOTE: The following post(s) include discussions of plot points from a bunch of books already published but that have not been made into movies yet, much of which can be considered SPOILERS. So no carping at me for not doing inviso-text or something.)

Quick preview/summary of the following spiel: Holy. Shit. What a disaster. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this (supposed) last act to “Twilight” actually makes all the prior novels slightly more attractive in comparison. I think the last time I saw a work of fiction go so completely awry in it’s final moments it was “High Tension.” But before I get going…

…in reading and reconsidering this series, I’ve tried to pinpoint what it is exactly that I found so off-putting about Stephenie Meyer’s writing. What I think of her subtext is a seperate matter, I’m talking about the mechanics of storytelling. Finally, I think I have it: ‘Twilight’ reads like it’s it’s OWN fan-fiction. By that I mean, the bigger IDEAS at play here aren’t all inherently bad – in fact, many of them have been GOOD many, many, many, MANY times before in other vampire books/movies/etc. It’s a style/execution thing, in other words. Reading through, I was occasionally aware that – did I not know any better – I’d be inclined to assume that “Twilight” was actually some other, more interesting franchise and what I was reading was an “imaginary tale” composed by a 14 year-old fan to accompany the heavily manga-inspired pencil-sketch of various characters “doing it” she’d uploaded to DeviantArt. In any case…

Breaking Dawn: I observed before that the series is at it’s worst whenever it tips into it’s own mythology. Unfortunately for me, Book #4 is ALL mythology, ALL the time. The human supporting players either vanish, die or get brought in on “the deal;” so now it’s ALL superpowered magical/mythic beings and their attendant whys and how-tos ALL the time. To be a little inside-nerd-baseball about it, the best descriptive I can find is that it reads like someone doing a near-perfect parody of Chris Claremont… except it’s not meant to be funny.

To the story: Edward and Bella get married and jet off to experiment with vampire/human sex before she officially switches sides herself. The attempt ends with her waking up looking life a used pinata but accepting that it’s her own fault for wanting sex in the first place – a position the book seems to agree with her on. Really.

Sidebar: Before we get any further, just so it doesn’t have to keep coming up let me put down for the record that – seperately from my opinion on it’s literary merits – on a purely THEMATIC level I loathe and despise every single archaic, hyperreligious, feminist-backlash bone in this series’ body. Taken as a whole narrative, “Twilight” is basically all about taking a female lead who’s essentially independent and cautiously-cynical about romance and teaching her (frequently by violence) the virtues of submissive co-dependency. All joking aside, fuck this.

So, in short-order, all that ‘experimenting’ unexpectedly leads to Bella getting knocked-up with a half-human/half-vampire baby that’s apparently draining her life-energy en-route to making it’s exit Chestburster-style. How exactly did this work, anyway? Three books have been spent telling us how ramped-up the vampires various physical attributes are AND how little self-control Edward has in these situations, so… look, it’s been a long time since I read all the way through “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” (look it up) but instead of a fetilized egg shouldn’t she instead have an exit wound somewhere in the vicinity of her tailbone? Whatever. The male characters mostly want her to get rid of it before it kills her (do coat-hangers even COME in pure silver? will it need to be blessed?) but she refuses even under threat of death because the fetus is talking to her and doesn’t want to be “killed.” Yeesh. Thus, we now have an answer to the question: “What if Sarah Palin had written ‘Alien?”

A series of character-contrivances set up a big combination brawl/birthing/turning-Bella-into-a-vampire sequence (which if filmmed could potentially rival “Flash Gordon’s” football-fight for what-am-I-watching high camp) capped off with Edward performing a C-section with his teeth. Huh. Okay, well… four books in, the male lead FINALLY does something cool. The resulting baby is a rapidly-maturing telepathic… well, “Daywalker” basically for those of you who’ve seen Blade (though in the Twilight universe having “none of a vampires weaknesses” means she’ll have to apply her OWN body-glitter) and Jacob the werewolf falls in love with her while she’s about an hour old via the werewolf “life-partner imprinting” thing. …Yeah. Somehow, I imagine that a lot of heated Twilight fan-discussions of “imprinting” on the interweb end with one of the parties being surprised by Chris Hansen.

One Deus ex Moronica misunderstanding later, though, and the Volturi (bad guys) are making a beeline for some baby-vampire extermination (it’s against the rules, or rather looks like something else thats against the rules.) Good guys’ solution: call in favors from all the OTHER good vamps they know and meet the baddies with a joint good-vamp/werewolf army for a showdown. Alright, THAT I can get behind. Two teams of good and evil vampires lined up for combat throwing superpowers at eachother. Pretty hard to fuck THAT up, right?

…and then a character we’ve never met or heard of before shows up out of nowhere, explains that it’s all a big misunderstanding to the bad guys, the bad guys go “oh, okay. Our bad,” waste ONE extraneous bit-player for good measure and then take off. And that’s it – it’s over. No, really. That’s the big finish to this: The villians shrug and walk home, the good guys get back to playing house. No major status-quo changes, nobody important dies, nothing.

Yeah, I wouldn’t even know where to start to “wrap up.” Suffice it to say, this last one is the one I’d most like to see as a movie just on the basis of how silly it all gets. Overall, I can say that gaining a better “understanding” of this series didn’t actually help me LIKE it any more. It starts out boring, flirts with becoming interesting towards the middle then crashes and burns at the climax… not much more to say of it than that. In the end, I’d say this “experiment” made for amusing blogging. Maybe I’ll do it again sometime… if I find myself in a situation where I can blaze through another similar inexplicably-popular series. Did “Left Behind” officially end, yet?

Get ready to hate me, folks…

Courtest AICN comes this weekend’s geekdom anger-generator du jour:
Apparently on the shortlist of actor’s desired for Warner Bros. Green Lantern movie? Justin Timberlake. Let the battle begin.

So… here’s something you need to understand about movie geeks and superheroes: Right now, they (okay, we) hate EVERY superhero casting decision until we don’t anymore; usually for the sole reason that the role has not gone to Nathan Fillion, who is generally adjudged to be “perfect” for every such role due to having a vaugely all-American WASPy look and having appeared as an action lead for Nerd-God Joss Whedon (see also: David Boreanaz.) But if you REALLY want to get our dander up? Cast someone who’s more popular with “the mainstream” and/or tween-aged girls than with us. Which is why I doubt that this is true, because it’s “too perfect” of a “rile the fanboys up” scenario.

However, since I’m feeling frisky, let me throw every shred of my film-geek street-cred away and say that I think it’d be good casting.

Yeah, I said it.

No, he wouldn’t be my first choice. Yes, I think he looks too young. But then, we think EVERYONE is too young. Hell, Christian Bale is frankly a little too “fresh” looking as Bruce Wayne, yes? The fact is, we all want superheroes to look like our surrogate father-figures no matter how old we get – this is why Alex Ross’s paintings are so “iconic”: he paints these characters who’re mostly supposed to be in the mid-30s at the oldest looking like hard-hewn 40-something John Wayne type dudes who these days ONLY exist in paintings and old movies. Warners is almost-certainly NOT going to cast someone over thirty as the lead in an action franchise.

As to Timberlake… look, we ALL despised NSync. But if you still “hate” this guy, I’m sorry, you need to mentally leave High School behind. He’s an extremely talented singer and dancer (not a genre I enjoy, but that he excells at it is a fact) and his SNL stints prove he’s gifted actor with great comic timing and real physicality. Not to mention – and I’m aware of the daming with faint praise aspect of this – he frankly has much more of a grown-up “man” look than most other actors in his range. I mean, would you rather they go with LaBeouf, again?

Heck, there’s even prior acting experience to point to: Jordan is supposed to be military man, and Timberlake played an Army Rangers vet pretty convincingly in “Black Snake Moan.” I’m sticking by this: He’d be well-cast in this role.

Experiment: Reading through "Twilight" (no, really) Part 3

(NOTE: The following post(s) include discussions of plot points from a bunch of books already published but that have not been made into movies yet, much of which can be considered SPOILERS. So no carping at me for not doing inviso-text or something.)

Among the many (MANY) valid criticisms lobbed in Stephenie Meyer’s direction i.e. “Twilight” is one that I think is a little unfair – namely pointing to her self-professed lack of familiarity with the genre outside her own work. I’m of the mind that it doesn’t matter – if anything, it ought to make the series more original… but instead only serves to make me both dissapointed and a little perplexed that someone who’s not a “fan” of the horror/vampire scene puts out an entry that’s so incredibly familiar and cliche.

Where it DOES hurt, though, is in the suspension of disbelief. The teenaged characters in the series are – as befits their age – sponges of the popular culture, but seem to exist in a world where no one has EVER made a movie or written a book about either werewolves or vampires… how else to explain how NO ONE picked up the veritable “hi, I’m a vampire!” name-badges the Cullens (good guys) are wearing all the damn time? The only other possible explanation is that everyone in the series is a moron, which is probably closer to likely as demonstrated in…

Eclipse: …case in point: This, book #3 aka “the ‘action’ one,” turns on two main plot threads. #1: There’s a ‘serial killer’ in nearby Seattle, but it’s really a small army of freshly-minted vampires. #2: The girlfriend of the now-deceased vampire villian from Book 1 is still skulking around looking for a revenge-shot at the good guys. It takes HALF THE FUCKING BOOK for anyone to put together that these things are probably related.

Brief sidebar: Most of the “Hm, something’s fishy in Seattle” foreshadowing (which the author isn’t getting any better at, btw) comes from Bella’s cop father, who filled a similar role last time dropping lines about “strange animal sightings.” Somewhere amid the slog, it occured to me that this was how Nancy Drew (30s version) often got her more unusual stories set up – save that her father was an attorney (right?) and she usually wound up solving a problem that had either baffled or escaped the (usually male) adults around her. Bella, on the other hand, typically winds up immediately in-over-her-head, bruised and bloody or flat on her back cooing “thank you sir, may I have another?” to the nearest available dominant-male. Aaah, progress 😉 Incidentally, new plot point: Edward puts his foot down and refuses to either sleep-with Bella OR turn her into a vampire until they’re married, for those wondering if the weird-ass abstinence metaphor kept on going.

Anyway, this means Superhero Team-Up time for the vampires and werewolves, preceeded by a training montage wherein the wolves learn proper tactics for such a situation. I can’t wait to see this part filmmed, since given the way the FX and casting has gone for this series so far I imagine it’ll look something like the “pose-off” contest in “Zoolander.” The “war” is actually a bit of an afterthought – the real focus is on the increasingly dippy love-triangle, culminating in an awkward sequence involving Bella freezing in a tent (don’t ask) and only one of her two paramours being capable of generating body heat. This scene will innevitably be an acting challenge for Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward in the films, because he’ll have to try and look even MORE like a whiny punk than he already does…

There’s also a lot of backstory on the werewolves, unfortunately including lots of mythology-building (which Meyer is lousy at) and foreshadowing (WORSE at that.) The big new plaything is “imprinting,” (which MIGHT have been mentioned earlier but I’m not going back to check) the process by which the wolves ‘mate for life’ by having their entire worldview snap-focused onto their “chosen” woman the moment they run into her. This is, of course, problematic for werewolves already in relationships (or by-the-numbers love-triangles) but it has an ickier side in that there’s no set “age limit” on this – so several of the young-adult wolf guys are “locked-in” on pre-adolescent fate-indicated girlfriends, whom they hang around “babysitting” like Daddy Long-Legs (as in the movie) until she’s old enough to screw without Dateline showing up. Apparently the girls in question don’t object to this, in fact the book goes out of it’s way to infer that this kind of stalker-ish fixation is something they ALL either want or ought to want. So… yeah. For those keeping track, you can add “child-brides” to the list of Retrograde Misogynist Relationship Scenarios That “Twilight” Considers The Height of Romance… right next to ritualized-abstinence, technical-exemption incest and marriage-by-contract.

As to the promised dust-up between the goodies and baddies? Not bad (probably going to need a trim for the innevitable film version’s PG13, in nothing else) but one does begin to REALLY notice how situational everyone’s “power-set” is. Also, for about the sixth time since starting the things, I find myself wondering if Stephenie Meyer’s DVR is full of Inuyasha reruns…

To be concluded tomorrow.

Experiment: Reading through "Twilight" (no, really) Part 2

(NOTE: The following post(s) include discussions of plot points from a bunch of books already published but that have not been made into movies yet, much of which can be considered SPOILERS. So no carping at me for not doing inviso-text or something.)

I should start setting weekly “projects” for this thing more often – when’s the last time I updated the very next day. Anyway…

New Moon: Since the whole point of putting myself through this was to try and get inside the head of where this “phenomenon” is coming from, I made it a point to hit up a quick sampling of fan opinions. One main recurring point: Apparently Book #2 “New Moon” is the “love it or leave it” installment – regarded either as the series high-point or a fundamental low; no middle ground. It doesn’t take long to discern why…

(incidentally, tip for making it through these at top-speed: Every time Meyer starts in on a positive description of male beauty, flip ahead five pages. Trust me – ALL you’re missing is about eighteen paragraphs worth of synonyms for the words “hard,” “cold” and “pale.”)

…anyway, the whole story turns on Bella (female lead) getting a paper cut, the blood from which makes one of the good vampires momentarily flip the hell out and nearly attack her (visualized with unintended hillarity in the film’s teaser trailer with a slo-mo sequence of pale skinny dudes throwing eachother through a piano.) She lives, but Edward (male lead, vampire) pulls a Bruce Banner – i.e. throwing a masochistic “I’ve got to protect you from me!” hissy-fit and running away, for whatever reason taking the rest of his crew with him. Bruce Banner, incidentally, is a reference Edward probably wouldn’t “get” – since if he did, he’d know that doing this is the surest way to garauntee that one or more of the two not-as-nice vampires still living after #1 turn up again. Anyway, Bella gets mopey(er) and (more-specifically)-suicidal over this; but perks back up by reconnecting with old-buddy Jacob, fun-loving grease-monkey and member of the local Indian tribe… who’s spent the interim between books growing into what my mother’s generation called a “hunk.” Oh, and he’s a werewolf. See: title of the book plus pages upon pages of amusingly clumsy foreshadowing.

This, I infer, is where the “division” in the fandom comes from: Edward basically VANISHES for about 90% of this installment, supplanted by his diametric opposite. Fangirls, help me out here: This is like Twilight’s version of Kirk-vs-Picard or Mike-vs-Joel, right? You’re either a “Jacob Girl” or an “Edward Girl,” in which case “New Moon” is either oasis or desert? Are there ‘nicknames’ for the two ‘sides?’ Anyway, though for what I imagine are profoundly different reasons than the target audience, I’d have to cast my lot in on the “Jacob side.” Not that he’s any less a one-dimensional cliche than anyone else in the series… but having suffered through a book and a half (plus a movie) of this stuff I’m inclined to be sympathetic to ANY character who’s checklist of motivations includes “wanting Edward to die.”

Moreover, though, I can say with some certainty that I’d call this the highlight (such as it is) of the series. The cartoonishly-unlikable male lead isn’t around to bother me, that’s part of it, but it’s kind of the first (and, it turns out, LAST) time that the series makes good on it’s own apparent hook of reworking mythic monsters into teen-romance archetypes – i.e. the vampire is the rich classy suitor vs. the blue-collar “fun” werewolf guy, fire vs. ice, a gender-swapped Archie/Betty/Veronica thing… but with monsters. Okay. Not really my “thing,” but at least I’m getting a rough idea what the point is. This is – speaking of foreshadowing – the closest I’ll ultimately come to enjoying this…

…too bad it doesn’t last. A 3rd-act plot-contrivance drags Edward back into the mix, but mainly serves to introduce the franchise principal supervillians: A vampire self-policing aristocracy called “The Volturi” (cute) who hail from the vampire city Volterra (oh, gawd… y’know, even as a five year-old noting how for example the Thundercats came from Thunderra or Crystar came from Crystalium I thought that kind of naming-scheme was dopey.) They’ve got more exotic names and better super-powers than everyone else, basically, and their main function here is to hand the good guys an ultimatum to either turn Bella into a vamp sooner than later or off her before she spills the beans to someone. “That’s light Team Amelica! A TICKING CROCK!!”

But anyway… yeah, compared to the first one, this one I didn’t mind – to the point that, until Act 3 rolled around, I was struck by the sinking feeling I had a lot of “perhaps I misjudged this” crow to eat. It’s tempered, however, by the fact that the stuff I liked I think I liked for the wrong reasons – it’s obvious that the book intends for the reader to miss Edward, whereas I couldn’t have been happier to not have him hanging around. Also, now that this is officially a “fantasy world” story instead of just a “vampire story,” a problematic flaw rears it’s head: While the teen-romance stuff works in fits and starts… ALL the mythology stuff is bad. All of it. The vamp/werewolf backstories are dripping in tired cliche, and the new stuff (like the “shiny” vampires) is pretty awful. And since “mythos” tends to get MORE dense as these things wear on… well, spoiler alert: That’s goin’ where you think it is. Starting tomorrow.

Experiment: Reading through "Twilight" (no, really) Part 1

(NOTE: The following post(s) include discussions of plot points from a bunch of books already published but that have not been made into movies yet, much of which can be considered SPOILERS. So no carping at me for not doing inviso-text or something.)

Something that never really made it into the well-known movies (and probably won’t be in the new one) about Sherlock Holmes is that the title character is a habitual abuser of cocaine (intravenously, even!) and other narcotics. The reasoning behind this – aside from “Hey, YOU find a way to give this smug, antisocial, asexual intellectual show-off whos ALWAYS right some depth!” – is that Holmes is so cerebral he can’t bear to be mentally disengaged even for a moment and will take the synapse-stimulating haze of a “high” over not having any cases to solve or chemistry to dick around with. (If he’d lived today – or at all – Holmes would’ve been forced-fed handfuls Ritalin as soon as he was old enough to talk back to this teachers and Professor Moriarty would be ruling half of Western Europe right now.) There’s an amusing element of truth in this: Nerds HATE to be bored. That’s why we turn casual leisure activities like movie-watching or gaming into marathons of endurance, why we “collect” instead of “aquire,” and why we’ll take bad stories that are “in continuity” over good ones that aren’t (looking at YOU, everyone who’s sooooo psyched about Ben Reilly coming back.)

Which is kind of a long-ish way of explaining that Bob works in a used book store, and occasionally Bob has NOTHING to fucking do for hours on end, so Bob will read just about ANYTHING to pass the time. As a rule, I avoid anything I expect to really LIKE because I want to be able to drop it once work actually rolls around and I’m “that guy” who can’t put a good read down. One day, for example, I read Sean Hannity’s book. Guess how I feel about Sean Hannity. Go on, guess. By far my favorite “snack” in these cases is bad “genre fiction” – read: scifi and fantasy of the type so brilliantly parodied with Stephen Colbert’s “Tek Jansen” bits – because it’s usually a quick read and even when it’s REALLY bad at least I get some aliens and/or sexually-aggressive amazons. A little while back the store made a big thing out of finally carrying the “Twilight” books, so I figured… well, only a matter of time. Plus, I needed to take a break from the lesser works of R.A. Salvatore at SOME point 😉

Frequent readers and/or fans of my Escapist stuff may recall that I quit shortly through book #1 and HATED the movie (dubbing it “Mormon Vampire Abstinence Porn”) and I honestly had very little intention of ever reading these save for a rare attack of negative introspection. See, they’ve been teasing the release of movie #2 “New Moon” with glamour shots of the Indian Werewolf dudes (hey, I warned you at the top of the page) standing around shirtless looking like a parody of early-90s designer-jeans ads. Like everyone else in the web geekverse, this struck me as immediately hysterical but also gave me a subsequent pause: There’s nothing INHERENTLY “funny” about this, other than the blatant sexualization of mythic characters… in which case, am I now on the “other side” of seeing my female compatriots roll their eyes at the likes of Power Girl and Fathom (okay, thats not fair, EVERYONE rolls their eyes at Fathom…) etc? In other words, am I missing the “point” here by not at least trying to engage the rare genre-entry that’s actually AIMED at women (instead of aimed at ME with some girl-power bones thrown to a female audience – looking at you Joss Whedon.)?

So I figured… what the hell? I’ll read the damn things, maybe get a run of blog entries out of it and MAYBE I’ll have to revise my feelings toward the franchise as a whole (spoiler: that didn’t happen) and in doing so further endear myself to the she-geek set (fingers still crossed on that one – hey ladies, did I mention I ALSO happen to love chocolate, flavored-alcohol and Tina Fey?) So I did. Took about a week reading in-between customers and stocking duty, probably coulda done it in about twelve hours uninterupted (see above i.e. nerds and boredom.) Overall verdict: Shoulda gone with my first instinct – yeesh, this goes from not-very-good to holy-shit-what-a-train-wreck more profoundly than the last three M. Night Shyamalan flicks. BUT can I wring some blogging out of it? Um… yeah, actually, since I’ve already banged FIVE paragraphs out of “so, I read some bad vampire books recently…”) So here’s how this “experiment” is gonna work: 4 books, 4 days. I’m gonna collect and post my insightful recollects (read: mean-spirited sex jokes) regarding each; and then YOU’RE going to read it, hopefully laugh and not be too angry with me when I recycle/cannibalize 90% of this material for reviewing the subsequent movie adaptations 😉

Why break it up over 4 days? Because this particular blog format doesn’t let you do the space-saving “click to read more” teaser-paragraph thing, and I’d rather not have loooong posts vanish from prime viewing space the moment I find a new youtube bit to link to. Anyway, onto #1…

TWILIGHT: Thanks to the media-blitz, the story you already know: Mopey high-school girl moves to overcast town, falls for whiny douchebag who’s actually a vampire. It’s most infamous for the way it reworks the typical fetishism of the vampire myth into a kind of pro-abstinence/”surrendered wife” thing; but there’s a few more levels of “huh?” to it – part of the main vamp’s apparent attractiveness to the heroine is that, being a century or so old, he’s basically a worldly old man pursuing an inexperience high schooler. That in an of itself is nothing new to vampire stories, but usually it’s played as a dark metaphor for predatory behavior – HERE, it’s treated like the most dizzyingly-romantic thing evah. Quick tip, girls: In real life, the phrase “he’s soooo much more MATURE than guys my own age” is often followed by an Amber Alert 😉 There’s also a slightly-icky vibe of incest-fantasy hovering over the vampire “family” and their romantically-paired adopted “children,” though given that the female-authored-vampire-romance has Anne Rice and Laurel K. Hamilton as it’s major touchstones I guess one should be thankful it remains just a “vibe” instead of a book-length digression. There’s also some bad guys, who aren’t especially interesting, some Native Americans who have kind of a “wolf” thing going on, and apparently vampires get one specific “super-power” in addition to everything else. Lead guy, for example, is a mind-reader… except it doesn’t work on the girl. Incidentally as to those last two bits… recurring theme for the series: Stephanie Meyer “foreshadows” like Michael Bay “utilizes pyrotechnics.” Overall, my impression of this one – book and movie – remains that it’s “this generation’s” answer to V.C. Andrews: Cheezy as all hell, not especially artful in it’s prose and feels a lot like reading the Myspace pages of it’s target audience. In book-form it’s a little less embarassing than the movie, but given the choice I’ll take the movie because Ashley Greene (who plays “Alice”) is fucking GORGEOUS.

So… tune in tomorrow, where I’ll either continue this OR sober up to the point that I realize this is a stupid idea to blow 4 days on 😉

Jennifer’s Body

Below, the R-rated “redband” trailer for “Jennifer’s Body,” screenwriter/blogger Diablo Cody’s followup to “Juno,” evidently based on the STUNNINGLY original premise of a murdered/beaten (raped, also, I infer?) high school cheerleader who “comes back” as a literally man-eating demon (or maybe she was always that way and this “woke it up?” I dunno.)

Here’s what’s bugging me: Diablo Cody is ONLY famous for ONE thing – her dialogue. Nobody cares (so far) about her plotting, her stories or her characterizations – she’s a “brand” based on her ability/prediliction for a writing style in which characters blurt out quippy, ironic, reference-laden dialogue like a belt-fed machine-gun hooked up to Liz Lemon. And that’s great, good on her, I liked “Juno,” yadda yadda. But in this….

…look: if the whole “hook” of this movie is that it’s a teen horror deal but with a focus on Cody’s celebrated dialogue… what would possess you to hire a talentless, personality-deficient non-actor like MEGAN FOX for the lead role? I’ve seen this woman trying to deliver dialogue… it’s like watching a quadraplegic try to moonwalk. I understand she’s mainly here to stand around wearing vaugely post-orgasmic expressions and possibly pop the twins out… but geez, there are Youtube videos of “talking” cats who can form coherent sentences more ably than Megan Fox can.

And speaking of the dialogue…

“I thought you only ates boys!”

“I go both ways.”

Yikes. See, here’s the other problem: Cody’s style is often afflicted with David Mamet’s Disease – in that it ONLY sounds really, really good when spoken in the right way by the right actor. Nobody in this seems to be “the right actor.”