Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Genre Character of the Week: Tommy Jarvis

As a kid, I was a pretty big fan of the slash films of the late '70s and early '80s.  Maybe it was because I grew up in a house filled with women and wanted something I could claim was my own, maybe I just liked scary movies - regardless, before I finished high school I had done multiple marathon showings of all of the Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th films.  Although the Elm Street movies were always my favourite in terms of concept and the monster, my favourite good guy in any of the films was Tommy Jarvis, from Friday the 13th Part IV, V, and VI, but mostly from part four, when he was played by Corey Feldman(pictured right).

Here’s what I like about Tommy; he’s pretty much the perfect person to go up against Jason.  Unlike the crowds of soon-to-be dead teenagers who generally end up fighting and then getting killed by Jason, Tommy is a little kid, and when it comes to fighting a giant zombie-like killing machine, you don’t want soldiers, or police or jocks, you want a small child who can figure out how best to defeat the creature you are up against.

To be fair, I'm a little scared of revisiting any of the horror franchises from my youth, as they were pretty light on story, and pretty heavy on shock and gore.  But for some reason, the idea of beating an unstoppable zombie (although they later try to state that Jason was a demonically possessed person) with little kid psychology just really stuck with me.

Although as a character, Tommy returns in both part V and part VI - for me it will always be the youngest Tommy who was the coolest.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Dead Space 2: First Impressions

Having finally finished up Grand Theft Auto IV, I moved on to the game Dead Space 2 this weekend, and with two Chapters (levels) under my belt, here are my first impressions

The Opening segment is amazing!  Dealing with the Necromorphs (alien zombies) throughout the first game was pretty darn terrifying.  Spending the first level of the sequel running away from these creatures while drugged and in a straight-jacked was one of the more intense gaming experiences I’ve had.

Like another of my favourite PS3 Franchises, the Uncharted series, the game does an excellent job of giving you tutorials on how to play while moving the story forward.

Unlike the first game where everything is pretty straightforward, the second game starts by informing you that the protagonist is crazy – you literally don’t know if what you’re seeing actual monsters or not throughout the early stages of the game.

Overall the game is a lot of fun – pretty darn scary, and has just the right level of space suit/engineering mixed with survival horror to keep me coming back for more.  Unfortunately it creeps out the majority of the people in my house, so I have to play it quietly, and in the dark.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Things I've Noticed: Making time for reading is important

In case I haven’t mentioned it before; I like to read, a lot – actually a whole lot.

On average I read roughly 100 books a year and I’m not counting articles for school, single issues of comic books, magazines or newspaper articles.

Now, a lot of people ask me, “how the heck do you find time to read all those books?” and honestly, it’s pretty simple.

1) I do a little bit of prep work to ensure I have stuff to read when I need it

The first rule is pretty easy to follow – as one of those horrible people who wake up early in the morning, I stick whichever book I’m currently reading next to my coffee maker and get five to ten minutes every morning to read before my morning cup is ready, at which time I stick my book in my jacket pocket… hmm…

1a) Have a jacket with pockets that can fit most books

2) I carry a book with me everywhere.
On the bus, on car trips, to the grocery store, pretty much everywhere, because I’ve always found if I have a book and get stuck in a big line at the store, I’m doing pretty good, but if I forget to bring a book with me, my bus trip/car trip/grocery store trip suddenly has plenty of stops and pauses that would have been perfect for me to spend time reading.

3) I limit how much time I spend watching TV/playing games/etc.
Because otherwise, I’d be very knowledgeable in terms of Honey Boo Boo (which to be fair, I’m fairly knowledgeable about) but would get nowhere near the amount of reading I like to get done each day completed.

So there you go, if you like to read, plan ahead, keep a book on you, and cut down on your other stuff so you have room to read.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Movie Review: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)

For one of my two book clubs this month, I read the 1954 Jack Finney novel The Body Snatchers, and as it has been adapted into film four times since it was written, I thought it would be fun to watch each of the adaptations and see what I could see.

Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers sticks pretty close to the original novel, the name of the town is changed, but otherwise everything in the film sticks (roughly) to the plot of the original novel.

Stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter both do a pretty great job with the material, initially starting off as confused as to the invasion but quickly moving into heightened levels of paranoia as the body snatchers plan comes to light.  To be fair, my two daughters didn’t have much patience for Wynter’s character Betty Driscoll, as she seemed incredibly passive throughout, and kept falling down during the chase scenes.

What we did like about the movie was the slow and steady buildup of the invaders plans.  Nearly 60 years old and the film definitely still had the power to creep my entire family out.  Yes there are some flaws, the beginning and ending of the film seemed tacked on (as it turns out they were) and my kids were clearly hoping for a stronger female lead in the film, but overall, a great movie.

Hopefully the next three will be just as fun!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Movie Review: Warm Bodies

This weekend my family and I checked out the recent supernatural romance film Warm Bodies.  Already being a fan of the original novel,  I went into the film hoping for something as intriguing and funny as a book with a zombie protagonist could be.

I loved it - the film looked great, it handled the original story in a very PG-friendly way, and honestly I was smiling most of the way through.

The main reason for this was in the two lead zombie characters, R and M (they can no longer remember their names) played by Nicholas Hoult and Rob Corddry.  Considering zombies are usually played as pretty soulless and almost a force of nature rather than individual characters, this film does a wonderful job of making each zombie an individual.

Most of what I like about the story I already stated in my post on the original novel, but I will add the casting, the music and the look of the film were all pretty great.  Also the fact that it was filmed in Canada made me happy as well.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Things I've Noticed: Me and Nico Bellic

So after a few months, my time with Eastern European gangster Nico Bellic (pictured above) is coming to an end.  I'm down to the final 15 missions on Grand Theft Auto IV and honestly, I think we've been drifting apart for a while now.

I think the problem comes down to the fact that I loved Grand Theft Auto: Vice City - whether it was the '80s time period, or the great music, I just really loved playing through the crazy Miami Vice-style mayhem of that earlier game, and have just found (with the exception of the Europop music playing throughout) GTA4 to be a weaker game.

The missions are definitely challenging, but honestly sometimes I'm just finding them to be too challenging, and a lot of the time I feel that it's just random chance when I finish a mission one time versus another.

Sorry GTA4 - but I'm not really gonna miss you when we're done - after all, my next game is Dead Space 2.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

First Impressions: American Horror Story

Over the last week my wife and I have been catching up with one of the big genre phenomenons of the last few years on television: American Horror Story.

At this point we're six episodes into the first season, so I thought it would be a good point to give the impressions I've had so far.

1) The opening credits kick butt - seriously, although there are a lot of great things I'm gonna say about the series (and some weird things as well), the credits, done by the same folks who've put together the opening credits for The Walking Dead, have given us a really creepy little lead in to each episode.  In addition, more and more of the imagery in the credits makes sense as you work your way through the series.

2) The musical stings are a lot of fun; borrowing from Psycho, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and even Insidious, the music is both a fun reference to older horror films and it heightens the creep-factor of the series.

3) At this point (halfway through the first season), I'm still not exactly sure where they are going with the story - which for a long-time horror fan like myself is a rare treat.

4) Connie Britton's last line in episode two (sorry - no spoilers) guaranteed that I'd be checking out episode three.

5) My wife and I had previously worked our way through Ryan Murphy's previous show,  Nip/Tuck which I quite enjoyed, and I've got to say this one is really impressing me with all the same things I liked so much about that series - well developed characters, intriguing story-lines, and a great atmosphere throughout.

Although like Nip/Tuck, this isn't an environment I'd like to visit, it sure is neat to watch.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Adapting the Body Snatchers

For one of my book clubs this month I'm going to be reading Invasion of the Body Snatchers by Jack Finney and the fellow who selected it suggested we also might try to watch the 1956 adaptation.

Of course, being who I am, I've decided I'm going to try and check out not just this adaptation, but the other three as well - 1978, 1993, and 2007.

So heads up - although I'm going to stay away from mentioning what I thought of the book until after book club next month, I will be chatting about how I found each of the films as I go along.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Things I've noticed: It's time to start hunting for new comics

When it comes to comic books I’m mostly a trade paperback kind of guy, where a collection of 4-10 issues are bound together, sometimes have a nice introduction written and often include notes by the author after the final issue.  But I’ve got to admit there is something nice about a continuing monthly story.

For the last few years I’ve been collecting one or two comic book series issue-by-issue: The Dark Tower, and The Stand, both published through Marvel comics, both adaptations of Stephen King novels I love.  With the adaptation of the The Stand wrapping up a few months back, and The Dark Tower series, catching up to the stories I’ve read in the original novels, I’m feeling it’s time for me to start looking for a new series to follow, issue-by-issue.

Right now I don’t really know where to start – my youngest daughter likes Batman, so if I get those I’ll probably get two readings out of each issue I purchase, but at the same time there are a heck of a lot of Batman and Batman-related titles out there.

Anyway, I don’t really have an idea of which series I’ll be going for, but I’m going to make sure to list whatever ends up gracing my (very small) single-issue comic book space at home.  For the record, the last time I went mainstream was back in 2000 when I collected Brian K. Vaughn’s run on Swamp Thing, featuring the original swamp things daughter, Tefe Holland. (who, come to think of it, would be a great Genre Character of the Week), so I’ve set the bar pretty high for myself there.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Oh Anne - How could they?

As a guy I admit that I didn’t grow up reading a lot of books featuring girls as main characters.  But one of the few I read wasAnne of Green Gables, by Lucy Maude Montgomery.  The book (if you’ve never heard of it) is a classic of Canadian literature, and tells the story of a young red-headed orphan girl named Anne Shirley, who is sent to the farm of Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert to stay – only they had asked for a boy.

Honestly this book is one of the sweetest pieces of literature I’ve ever come across and even though I’m a guy, I hold that story and it’s characters pretty dear to my heart.

So then this happened today.
Yup – an American publishing company decided that what Anne really needed was a makeover, lets make her blonde, about ten years older and posed like a pinup – also lets forget the story is set in the early 1900s in Prince Edward Island, Canada so she can wear some less appropriate clothing as well.

Honestly, I don’t really have much to say – I guess I kind of feel bad for the model in this new cover, as many of the twitter and posting comments about the new cover image get pretty personal, pretty fast.

Check out the story here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Although it came out last year, I only got around to watching 2012s The Amazing Spider-Man yesterday when my hold came through at my local library.

This was actually the first Marvel film I haven't seen in theatres since... mmmm....Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance a few months earlier.  Wait!  I meant that I hadn't missed a theatrical release Punisher: War Zone two years earlier.

You know, I think I've missed more Marvel films than I had thought.

So here are some quick thoughts regarding The Amazing Sipder-Man:

1) The movie is pretty fun, definitely worth a watch and I liked the various plot and character changes compared to the original Spider-Man trilogy.

2) Considering the original Spider-Man trilogy began ten years earlier - a reboot seemed strange even to my youngest child - who was five when the first Spider-Man film came out.

3) The movie has, hands down, my favourite Stan Lee cameo in any Marvel film to date.

4) Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy was freakin' awesome!

5) I did miss having J. Jonah Jameson in the film.

In the end I think the movie is definitely worth a watch and I'd be happy to see a sequel.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Things I've Noticed: IT'S SUPERBOWL...

...and I've found just the shirt to describe my feelings about this (see left)

All right, sometimes the commercials are pretty cool.

And to be fair, when team A and team B face off in their something-something-th game in a quest for glory, I'll be hanging out with friends at the local Denny's and chatting about a comic book series that I chose for us to read this month.

Which is awesome!

Although I can't say much about the Superbowl (super bowl?), and I'd much rather watch a puppy bowl (wait - that's actually a real things, and I'm still not that interested)  I can say that book club is pretty darn awesome and I can't wait to get chatting about what I've been reading lately!