Friday, December 19, 2014

Thoughts on "The Hobbit: Bloat of the Five Armies" (or something like that)

Just saw the third Hobbit flick.

I hold to my previous opinions on these films. They're not adaptations of Tolkien's novel. They're takes on a 13-year-old boy's Dungeons & Dragons campaign that was inspired vaguely by the book as half-read then turned into a comic book, then filtered into a video game, and then distilled into a sound byte for marketing wonks.

It's a pretty film but bloated, excessive, and ridiculous in so many parts.

The funny thing is that I liked all the actors. They all did fine with their roles. I enjoyed them all on screen (though I wanted more of Beorn throwing down with the Orcs). The story was just... unnecessarily-inflated with garbage while skipping over actual valid stuff from the book.

Tolkien isn't spinning in his grave. He's breaking free as a Nazgul to seek revenge for the butchery done to his story.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Books

Commuting on BART requires a few things:
  1. Patience.
  2. Flexibility.
  3. A poor sense of smell.
  4. Tolerance for the eccentric behavior of one's fellow human beings.
  5. A strong immune system.
What the hell does this have to do with books? Well, points 1, 2, and 4 are all greatly-assisted by having reading material on-hand. I could load some books on my phone and read, but I'm not a fan of burning through my phone's battery unnecessarily. Plus the screen is kinda tiny. I could get an e-reader to replace my dead Kobo, but I haven't yet decided on what I want or how to deal with my excessive number of epub e-books (largely ruling-out Kindle).

So dead trees it is.

I got "Clariel" by Garth Nix, back in November and burned through it a little too fast. It was a nice prequel to his Abhorsen series, though a little choppy for me in parts.

I also got "The Slow, Silent Regard for Things" by Patrick Rothfuss. While I enjoyed it, I found myself irritated that this distracted from book three of his Kingkiller Chronicles.

I'm kind of an entitled ass when it comes to my entertainment. I've come to accept that and am somewhat glad that nobody really cares all that much about my whining.

So I found myself at loose ends on reading material and splurged a bit to get "The Red Sword" by Miles Cameron and gambled on its sequel, "The Fell Sword".

I'm a bit over 150 pages into "The Red Knight" and am enjoying it. Cameron is clearly someone with an SCA background and is a little too in-love with describing medieval armor components and attire, but he is solid at world-building and I'm really enjoying his characters and setting. The story is interesting and the magic system intrigues me. I expect good things from this.

After those two are done, I plan to go to "Half a King" by Joe Abercrombie. I like Abercrombie's work, but I didn't want to read one of his books before Xmas. His bleak stories tend to depress me.

After that is "Words of Radiance" by the ever-awesome Brandon Sanderson. That's a fat book and will take me a good long while.

I need a bigger bag. Sigh.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Time flies

Nearly a month since I tormented the world with my ridiculous nonsense! How could I let such a lapse take place?

So yeah. Most of my last four weeks has been adjusting to new employers and all that fun stuff. Gotta redefine the job and what it means in my life, etc., etc.

It's been a thing.

Not much that's blog-worthy (and given the inane prattle I post, that's saying something). I will say that I'm getting a tad tired of Oakland going into protest-riot mode every twenty seconds. I get that there's some serious racial imbalance out there and some insane injustice, but blocking freeways, shutting down BART stations, and destroying local shops in riots isn't helping, guys.

That's about it on my end.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review: "Death in Heaven"

And we've come to the finale.

Spoilers follow and all that. Proceed at your own risk.
























































Still there? You were warned. Highlight to view.




Starting from the ridiculous mess that was "Dark Water", the gender-bent Master, now known as "Missy" has brought the Cybermen back to Earth using imprinted memories from the dead from across time and space, thanks to Time Lord technology. U.N.I.T. crashes the scene, taking both the Doctor and "Missy" into custody as the Cybermen display flight capabilities and depart. They go into the skies above all major population centers and explode.

Meanwhile, Clara - trapped by a Cyberman - tries a bluff by claiming to be the regenerated Doctor to buy her time before she's killed. Her erstwhile boyfriend, Danny, has also returned as a Cyberman but with his emotions intact. He rescues Clara from the other Cybermen and knocks her out.

The Doctor awakens to find his TARDIS in U.N.I.T. custody. U.N.I.T. gets him and "Missy" on a plane then reveal that the Doctor is now the de-facto President of Earth to lead them out of the current threat. You see, the exploded Cybermen have turned into clouds that rain over graveyards and bring back the dead as Cybermen.

Don't ask.

So the world is in terrible danger, blah-blah.

Meanwhile, "Missy" plays head-games with one of the U.N.I.T. scientists before gleefully murdering her and the really useless U.N.I.T. guards.

Fast-forward to the Cybermen attacking the plane. The Doctor and "Missy" have a showdown, but "Missy" outmatches the Doctor by blowing out the side of the plane, sending Kate Lethbridge-Stewart (the daughter of the Brigadier) to her apparent death and then the Doctor to the same as "Missy" teleports to safety.

The Doctor manages to get into his falling TARDIS and head to the revived Clara, who is attempting to help the Cyberman-Danny delete his emotions because reasons.

"Missy" reveals to the Doctor that she can control all the Cybermen in the world as her puppets and they are invaluable tool to conquer the known universe. And she gives control of the Cybermen to the Doctor so he can find out that he's no different than she.

The Doctor ponders who he is, then gives control of the Cybermen to Cyber-Danny who uses the Cybermen to destroy the Cyber-clouds that are awakening the dead.

Clara, having stolen "Missy's" death-ray-thing, prepares to murder the renegade Time Lady, but the Doctor stops her. The Doctor struggles to finish "Missy" himself when she is apparently disintegrated by another Cyberman. It seems Danny wasn't the only Cyberman among the dead to retain his emotions. Kate Lethbridge-Stewart is revealed to be alive thanks to a Cyberman who can only be the Brigadier.

The episode ends with some hand-wavy stuff from beyond in which Danny sends the kid he killed as a soldier back to Clara so Clara can get him home. The Doctor and Clara meet one last time and lie to one another to ease their parting. Then Santa Claus appears.

Okay, my snark aside, I was surprised how much I enjoyed this finale. It was probably one of the few Moffatt-finales I actually did enjoy. The story writing was rough, but far, far better than his previous attempts. The gleeful, horrific brutality of "Missy" made up for much of the overly-convoluted nonsense of the plot and sold me on "Missy" as an incarnation of the Master. I also liked the grimly-brutal resolution of the Danny Pink storyline and how it really was an unhappy ending for Clara and Danny. I was also impressed with the consistency of the horrible lying that ultimately split the Doctor and Clara apart.

So, I raise a toast to you, Stephen Moffatt. Nicely-played. It wasn't great but I found it somewhat-enjoyable. Now please go on to other things and pass the baton to someone else.

Fishing for chips

I spent a couple of weeks in the UK recently. I was able to visit northern England where matronly cafe-ladies call everyone "love" and "cheers" is the ubiquitous utterance. Ale is hand pumped and room temperature. Steak and ale pie is a thing. People drive on the other side of the road and everything feels a bit... off... to an American.

It was glorious.

I was able to attend celebrations for Guy Fawkes Night, which consisted of many fireworks and a HUGE bonfire upon which an effigy of good old Guy was lit aflame.

Words fail me.

I must say I love the UK. The people are quite nice, the food - while generally unhealthy - suited my palate nicely, and the pubs just made me happy.

Can't say I enjoyed the travel to and from the county, though. As a California resident, my trek there was many hours in the air or in airports.

It's no shock that I caught a head cold while returning, though I've mostly fought it off.

I got to catch up on movies on the flight back. I managed to see the utter train wreck that was the latest Godzilla movie as well as watch Tom Cruise die over and over in End of Tomorrow (or was it Edge of Tomorrow? I forget).

All-in-all, I'm glad to be home. Travel is fun once you're at your destination, but the act of getting from point A to point B just sucks.

Not a review: "Dark Water"

I'm not going to bother on this one.

I was in the UK when it aired and got to see it broadcast. There's nothing positive I can say about this episode at all.

Honestly, I can't think of a single positive thing. So rather than turn this into a bile-filled tirade, I'll just leave it here as I didn't like the episode and it's just another example of Moffatt losing it.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Not-Really-A-Review: "Into the Forest of the Night"

I'm not even going to bother summarizing this one. I don't think I can. It was an utter, disjointed, incoherent mess of acid-induced crap. I can't even spoil it as it's too incoherent. This one is up there with "Love and Monsters" for my list of worst episodes ever. Though I'm still leaning towards hating "Love and Monsters" more.