Friday, August 28, 2009

Twilight: One Geek Guy's Look at the Novel

Twilight. The phenomenon that's causing geeky teen girls and their moms to swoon at anything remotely vampire-ish or sparkly. As a guy and a horror fan, I've been appalled at nearly everything I've heard about this series. From what I gathered from overheard conversations and my wife's incessant recommendations, Stephanie Meyer's tale is a sappy story about a "mary jane" character who falls for the hunky perfect guy who happens to be a vampire. That, in and of itself, isn't bad. Sounds about right for a Harlequin Romance for teens. But then the horror fan in me boots up. These aren't vampires! The creatures in Twilight don't burn in sunlight (They sparkle for Stoker's sake!), you can't kill them by staking them through the heart, they have no aversion to garlic and/or holy symbols. Other than the fact that they're immortal and drink blood, they hold with absolutely NONE of the traditional vampire lore! (And don't get me started on the werewolves! But they don't show up 'til book 2 so that may never be covered on my blog.)

So far, I'd heard nothing that attracted me to this series in the least. a supportive husband who's wife is a self-confessed Twi-hard and someone who can put traditional horror ideas aside (I do like the Necroscope books after all), it was only a matter of time before I gave in and either watched the movie or read the book. Being the masochist that I am, I went the book route which took me weeks (Why so long? I'll explain later.) instead of the 2 hours that the movie would've done.

So, without I'll answer the question that all the geek guys are asking... is it worth reading?


Read this book only if you have nothing better to read or you're trying to impress the ladies or your significant other. I told my wife that the worst parts of this book were the beginning, middle and end but that's not entirely accurate. It's not a terrible book by any means and does have some good stuff but there are 3 very weak points that make it into something that I will never read again and they do appear at the beginning, middle and end of the book.

Weak Point #1 (the beginning): Bella. The central character in the novel. This is the most whiny, self-centered, complaining character I've ever come across. Yes. I realize she's a teenage girl but I don't remember the girls I hung out with in high school complaining and being all "woe is me" this much. The situation is made worse by the fact that the entire novel is first person and narrated by her. However, her demeanor really only grated on me terribly at the start of the novel when she was alone and wandering around. In fact, I put it down for days at a time while trying to get through the opening scenes and that's why it took me so long to read. Once the vampires showed up, it became tolerable and I got to reading in earnest.

Weak Point #2 (the middle): The meadow scene. You've all heard about the sparkly vampires but, in the novel, you only actually see the sparkles one time and it's the most sappy crap scene in the entire thing. Edward (the hunky vampire) takes Bella (the whiny damsel in distress) to a secluded meadow in the forest where they constantly try to kiss only to have him continually pull back due to his blood lust. Meanwhile, Bella's getting all hot and bothered and just keeps teasing him. After pages of this crud, I was hoping he'd just give in and kill her. But instead, they kiss and then Edward shows Bella why he doesn't go into the sunlight. He takes of his shirt and shows that his skin sparkles. In the book though, he doesn't look like a disco ball as I was led to believe. Instead, he looks more like a rock that has shiny sparkly bits in it. I can understand this. I get it. It's a different take on vampires. Like I said, I can put tradition aside and view them in a new light. And I am a romantic kind of guy so I get the kissy bits, but this scene seemed to go on forever and, for that reason alone, it almost lost me.

Weak Point #3 (the end): The final quarter of the book finally picks up the pace and turns into a semi-cool action/thriller when a group of rogue vampires show up. One of them, a tracker (apparently he tracks things really well) called James sets his sights on Bella for a sporting hunt. At this point, the thought crossed my mind that maybe I'd read the second book in the series. After all, the second book has werewolves and, if it continued this spirit of action, it may not "suck" as bad as the first one. However, that thought was blown away as I was treated to a brutal case of reader's blue balls when Meyer's loses her nerve and doesn't even show the final showdown between Edward and James. What we get instead (and this is yet another reason to hate that the book's narrated by the damsel) is a scene in which James rushes in to attack Bella only to have her pass out and wake up once the fight is over. James is dead and there's mention of lots of blood but where's the fight!? After all that build-up, there's...nothing.

If they'd changed the narration to third person, shortened the meadow scene and actually described the final battle, I would very likely be recommending Twilight to you right now. But, as it stands, I didn't like it. I may read book 2 eventually because my wife tells me there's more action and intrigue but not until I finish a few of the other books on my reading list. We'll see...

My overall score: 2.5 out of 5

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pull List Reviews - August 26

Green Lantern #45
As Blackest Night continues to roll across the DCU, Carol Ferris (Star Sapphire) squares of with Sinestro revealing that she's not controlled by the violet ring and that even Sinestro isn't untouched by love. In other parts of the universe, an entire planet is about to "rise" and Agent Orange continues to fight for possession of a blue ring only to get the shock of his life when Blackest Night rocks his world. The plan of the Black Lanterns begins to come together as the homeworlds of all of the color rings are falling one by one (except for one that's remained hidden). In the words of Agent Orange: "Yuh-oh." Great issue!
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Batman & Robin #3
The battle with the twisted Mr. Pyg comes to a conclusion this issue but he leaves more questions unanswered than not. And one of Pyg's escaped minions meets up with one of Batman's old enemies... but who is it really? I can't wait to see where Morrison takes our intrepid heroes next month. He's one of the few writers out there that I have trouble anticipating... and that's a good thing. A perfect storm of great writing and excellent art!
Score: 4 out of 5

Detective Comics #856
Speaking of excellent artwork, watching Batwoman get saved from Alice and her twisted crime cult by shapeshifters is made visually stunning by the images of JH Williams III. Sadly, I'm still not digging the storyline much. Batwoman is an interesting enough character and I like her interactions with her dad but the story so far is like 300... great to look at but kind of flat. The backup tale this month continues The Question's search for a missing girl as she ends up locked in a trunk in the bottom of the river.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

The Flash: Rebirth #4
This series continues to race along at appropriately breakneck speeds as Barry tries to escape the speed force and save his loved ones from Professor Zoom. Meanwhile Wally heads into the speed force to try and rescue Barry and Mercury Max. And the secret of the speed force is revealed (and while the secret isn't all shocking it is super cool for me as a fan of Barry). The final few pages preps us for an all out battle between Zoom and Barry as two opposites clash for the fate of all speedsters in the DCU. I can't wait to see where the chips fall when this is all over!
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Superman #691
Project: Patriot continues to play out as Metropolis is attacked and Kryptonian extremists are blamed. Gen. Lane comes out of hiding and his plot is revealed to be behind recent events both on Earth and New Krypton. Things take a turn for the worse as our heroes, including Superman himself, are left either captured or disgraced. Dark days are ahead for anyone of Kryptonian origin... except for maybe Zod (who I still believe to be behind all of this).
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Friday, August 21, 2009

Pull List Reviews - August 19

Superman/Batman #63
As a fan of both Grodd and breaking the fourth wall, this issue definitely gets my vote for coolest cover of the week. For a book like this with rotating writers and artists, the arcs are hit and miss but this one shot issue has very cool interior art and a cool story to go along with it. It's a future tale in which Gorilla Grodd has taken over the earth and Batman is the lone resistance to his complete dominion. In the end it's supposed to showcase the importance of Superman but I think it shows the Batman in an even better light. Nice issue!
Score: 4 out of 5

Superman Annual #14
With Superman spending most of his time on New Krypton, I've been digging his stand-ins in his normal titles. This issue gives the background of Mon-El and Daxam and is actually quite touching. It makes me like Mon-El even more and keeps me wondering who gave him that cure and, more importantly... why?
Score: 4 out of 5

Justice League of America #36
More secrets behind the new Royal Flush Gang are revealed as the second (and third) string JLA members try to contain their worldwide reign of robberies. While I actually like seeing these characters get their moments in the spotlight, I still get the vibe that, with Blackest Night going on elsewhere in the DCU, this book just isn't nearly as strong as it should be. This is the JLA, folks! Let's get this mess together and start the epic battles this series is supposed to contain!
Score: 3 out of 5

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Pull List Reviews - August 12

Last week was rather dead (and not in that good Blackest Night kinda way either) on the DC Comics front, with nothing on my pull list coming out, but that was just apparently the calm before the storm. DC comes in with a volley of punches this week with (count 'em) 3 Blackest Night issues! And what issues they are! On top of the Blackest Night goodness, DC also hits with Batman, Action Comics and Superman: Secret Files 2009. So... with Blackest Night in full effect and bad puns to speed... dig in!

Blackest Night #2
I'll hand it to DC for Blackest Night. This series really isn't pulling punches! In the 2nd issue of the main title, we get hints at the fallout of the Dibny's attack on the Hawks, an all out battle at Aquaman's grave, a quick flash of Deadman at his own grave (see Blackest Night: Batman #1 for the rest of that tale), a cool interlude with Hawk and Dove, the continuing battle between Hal Jordan, Barry Allen and the undead Martian Manhunter. But the worst... What happens to the magic users when they gather to try and sort out this coming doom will blow your mind! I don't know if the DCU can survive 6 more months of Blackest Night!
Score: 5 out of 5

Blackest Night: Batman #1
I wasn't sure what to expect with this spin-off of Blackest Night since Bruce Wayne is apparently dead. What we get is a tale of our favorite Deadman and his attempt to warn Batman of the coming crisis. What he finds is not the Batman he expected. Then things go from bad to worse and Batman calls in some help. Keepin' it spoiler free... Dick, Damien and Tim are about to have a rough time in Gotham!
Score: 4.5 out of 5

Green Lantern Corps #39
And I thought the folks on earth were having it bad with the Black Lanterns! The Green Lanterns encounter a force unlike any they've ever faced as the black rings plow into Oa... literally! I mean any reader of the series has known that the fallen Green Lanterns would be coming back eventually but this issue blew my expectations out of the water! I wonder if there will even be a Corps after Blackest Night is over.
Score: 5 out of 5

Batman #689
After 3 issues of undead onslaught, it was nice to step back and just watch Dick and Damien continue their struggle to be the new dynamic duo of Gotham. The crime lords of Gotham are escalating their tactics, especially considering that at least one of them already knows that there's a new man beneath the cowl. Two-Face, Penguin and Black Skull draw lines in the sand and the issue ends with a cliffhanger that may have just thrown Gotham's new protectors a bit more than they can chew.
Score: 4 out of 5

Action Comics #880
Codename: Patriot storyline continues this issue with Superman and Supergirl chasing an escapee from New Krypton. We get a glimpse into the plans of General Lane and just how they play into this seemingly unrelated event. Meanwhile, Nightwing and Flamebird are coming to grips with their newfound popularity when they run across another part of Gen. Lane's plot. I can't wait to see where this storyline goes! Then, in a backup tale, we continue the weird Captain Atom story that began last issue. I still have no clue what's going on but at least it's beautiful to look at.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Superman Secret Files 2009
Want to jump into the Codename: Patriot crossover but have no idea what's going. I mean Superman's on a new planet. And who are Mon-El, Flamebird and Nightwing? Well look no further! DC has provided you just what you need with this one-shot issue. It has dossiers with all the info you'll need on the characters, places and events of the past year. We also get a few brief glimpses into the characters of Ursa, Mon-El, Supergirl and President Pete Ross, some of which will definitely come into play during this Superman crossover.
Score: 3.5 out of 5

Friday, August 7, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are: 2nd Trailer

This just made my day so I had to post it. I can't wait to see this movie!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mexican Wrestlers, Runaway Minecarts and Gore! Oh My!

In my various posts with the Eerie Horror Film Festival (I was head of judging back in '08, been a board member for several years and now do double duty as webmaster), I've had the opportunity to view a lot of independent genre films. What's cool about this is that occasionally, amongst the onslaught of no-budget-filmed-on-vhs fare, we find an up and coming filmmaker who has a natural talent for the medium.

Why am I explaining all this background? Well. Not to put too fine a point on it, I've just found several guys who I'm sure you'll hear a lot more from in the future working on the short film The Ballad of Angel Face.

Written and Directed by Brian Thomas Barnhart, the film (Barnhart's 2nd) follows the tale of a small town sheriff who makes a decision during an arrest that comes back to haunt him. At the start of the film, the sheriff gets his comeuppance and is left for dead. From here, it becomes a revenge flick (a la Kill Bill) as the Sheriff hunts down and kills those responsible for his predicament.

That Kill Bill reference was no mistake. The film is very reminiscent of Tarantino even down to the out-of-order chapters (complete with text chapter headings) and the added 70's grindhouse film grain (but alas, it's missing the great Tarantino dialog).

Formulaic. Yes. But the direction, cinematography and score make this a brilliant little piece of filmmaking. With beautiful spaghetti western cinematography from Parker Tolifson (who's resume is about as short as the director's) and a musical score to match from dark classical composer Le'rue Delashay, the film transcends the weaknesses in the script and makes for a fun little grindhouse romp that satisfied that dirty little part of me that loves that type of flick.

If you get a chance to see this film (and you may get the chance at this year's EHFF), be sure not to miss it. I can't wait to see what this crew does in the future, especially given a better script to work from.