{Film Review} This Beautiful Fantastic

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Bella’s beginning were unconventional. Found among ducks as a baby, she was raised in an orphanage where she nursed a fear of the outdoors and soothed her loneliness with books. Now an adult, Bella lives very much alone with only those books, a typewriter, and radio for company. Her interactions with the outside world occur at the library where she works and over a garden wall with her curmudgeonly neighbor. It isn’t until she has an accident in her neglected garden that her lonely little world begins expanding. Gradually, she is forced to let in her cleaner/cook, the aforementioned grumpy neighbor, and a handsome inventor.

This Beautiful Fantastic is a whimsical fairy tale along the lines of Penelope, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and–perhaps the most well-known of all quirky, girl films–Amelie. Jessica Brown Findlay excellently portrays Bella, a character who has spent years building walls to protect herself from the grief of losing her parents too young. It’s a quiet role–one which calls for Findlay’s expressive eyes and gentle, physically comedy–and while Bella is described as the oddest of oddballs by our narrator, the film and Findlay never allow her quirkiness descend to ridiculous levels (that’s left for her manic pixie dream boy love interest). Bella spends her time dressing like Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice, learning foreign languages on the radio, and obsessively ordering her house. She’s essentially a relatable sort of weird and you can’t help but root for her to begin writing her book and make friends the individuals thrown in her path.

These prospective friends come in the form of cleaner Vernon (Andrew Scott), neighbor Alfie (Tom Wilkinson), and inventor Billy (Jeremy Irvine). Each role is played to varying success.  Andrew Scott is impeccable as always as the first person to knock bricks from Bella’s wall. His sweet charm and adorable bumbling-ness make you understand why Bella would immediately make room for him and his calming hugs in her life. It’s a shame really that they cast someone so incredibly likiable in this role because it’s difficult to understand why she would pass up her kind cook/cleaner in exchange for a mad, inventor boy. (Sigh.) Before we get to that mad inventor, it needs to be said that Tom Wilkinson manages wonderfully as Bella’s antagonist/mentor. His character sets Bella on her journey, but he’s more than just the catalyst for the film’s gardening-heavy plot. He’s also given room to grow as he overcomes loneliness and grief of his own. It is the bond and sympathy between Alfie and Bella that centers the story–which is one of the many reasons why her love story with Billy feels so extraneous.

Billy–the main weakness in the film–is in all essentials a Manic Pixie Dream Boy. He dresses like he’s a member of a Steampunk club, builds robots that are powered by moonlight, and always has tea and a spare cup at the ready. His character appears to be part of a separate (far quirkier) film altogether, and his and Bella’s love story sparked my only annoyance with the film. Certainly, his “Luna” gives Bella the protagonist for her children’s book, but it’s her experiences with Alfie that drive the fable she’s writing and illustrating. Billy’s cartoonishness makes for an odd fit tonally in this film, and seeing as he’s the only character without proper development, it would have been better if his role had been written around and out of This Beautiful Fantastic.

Thankfully, Billy’s presence doesn’t break this movie. The writer/director Simon Aboud created a  whimsical tale about grief, creativity, and caring for something outside yourself in This Beautiful Fantastic, and while it might not inspired the viewer to pick up a spade and take to the garden, it certainly reminds one of the importance of creativity and moving forward.  

If You Like This Beautiful Fantastic, Check Out. . .

  • Penelope
  • Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
  • Amelie
  • The Brother’s Bloom

Revisiting the DCEU: Man of Steel

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My first introduction to Superman was the 1978 film with Christopher Reeve. I picked it up back when I was in high school in preparation for the release of Superman Returns. You’d think, as someone who had grown up on Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s gothic Batman films, I would be cheesed out by the brightly optimistic Supes of old. I was not. I fell in love with Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel and soon after fell even deeper in love with Brandon Routh’s incarnation (I will not apologize for being able to quote Superman Returns by heart). To me, Clark Kent has always been doofy, Lois Lane unable spell, Lex Luthor maniacal and bald, and Superman ready to fight for truth, justice and the American way.

It’s not entirely surprising then that Man of Steel came as a bad shock the first time I attempted to watch it. Here was a dark Superman who hadn’t even become Clark Kent of the Daily Planet yet. None of it set right with me so I turned off the film halfway through in frustration. Henry Cavill was not my Superman. I was not ready to accept this incredibly different vision.

Fast forward a couple years. Thanks to Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad, I’ve grown rather fond of  Zack Snyder’s dreary vision for the DC Comics Extended Universe, and with Wonder Woman and Justice League looming on the horizon, I figured it was about time this DCEU apologist rewatched Man of Steel. All signs pointed to the glaring fact that maybe–just maybe–I had been too harsh on it my first time through. It was time to see if that was truly the case.

Man of Steel charts the origin story of Superman from his unconventional (by Krypton standards) birth to his first encounter with a supervillain. Unlike most superhero origin stories, Kal-El doesn’t baulk at becoming a caped hero. From his childhood, he knows it is his destiny to be a protector and a beacon of hope–the only question is when the time will arrive for him to come out of the shadows. The villainous General Zod’s arrival answers that question for him. As evildoers, Zod and his band of misfits are a formidable group for the newly minted Superman to go up against. The Kryptonians’ powers rival Superman’s, but thankfully, Kal-El has more experience using his abilities on Earth. As they become overwhelmed by their new strengths, Kal-El uses his superior knowledge against them–which keeps him alive even when their numbers make it impossible for him to defeat them alone.

It’s to Earth’s advantage then that Lois Lane, the shining star of Man of Steel, takes an interest.

While Man of Steel does have its weakness (pacing, lack of Clark Kent, etc.), its female characters are not among them. Lois might not be the bad speller of old, but the Lois of Man of Steel is still no damsel in distress. She’s equal parts hard-nosed news reporter and co-savior of mankind. If it wasn’t for Lois, Kal-El wouldn’t have known how to defeat Zod and destroy his terraforming machine. She actually blasts her way out of Zod’s ship with that information so she can make certain both Superman and the U.S. Army have the tools they need to make a final stand. That’s just the cherry on top. Lois is amazing throughout the entire film. She never misses an opportunity to be in the middle of the action–even after she gets attacked in a Kryptonian ship and Kal-El cauterizes her wound with his heat vision! Lois Lane is a hero without a cape and Man of Steel doesn’t forget it. That alone endears it in my heart.

Of course, Lois isn’t alone in stealing the show from the male characters. As assistant villain, Faora legitimately overshadows Michael Shannon’s Zod. If you had to choose which of the two to go up against, Faora would not be your pick (Which I suppose is one of the film’s weaknesses. Zod just doesn’t hold a candle to his second in command). Superman’s mother, Lara, also makes a memorable impression by standing up to Zod and feeling genuinely equal to her husband in orchestrating Kal’s future. She even watches her husband die in front of her while saving her son. Lara’s incredibly tough (and dresses like a proper space queen). It’s just incredible how Man of Steel sets the DCEU’s standard for the women stealing the show–something we see again in Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad.

Unfortunately, one can’t talk about Man of Steel without addressing the notorious issue of Zod’s death scene. It needs to be said that I am against Superman killing people on principle–just like I’m against Batman killing people on principle (looking at you, Tim Burton’s Batman). However, the scene between Superman and Zod did not bother me as much in context as I expected it to. For me, what it all boiled down to was the fact that the Superman of Man of Steel was completely and absolutely green when it came to being a superhero. This is a Kal-El who just learned how to fly and who has never used his powers in battle before. It’s easy to say that Superman wouldn’t kill, but Kal is barely Superman at this point. He’s still learning to use his powers. It’s absolutely understandable that he might do something Superman wouldn’t. Beyond that, the fact that the killing feels like a last resort is important to me. Our green Superman begs Zod to stop hurting people before he breaks his neck. He is even in tears when he performs the actual act. It’s not an easy thing for him to do. You can tell that nearly breaks him. Kal-El is not a killer, but he is forced into the act as a last resort when he doesn’t know what else to do. In the future, I believe Superman can and will do better. For now, he tried his hardest to do what was right and fell short. I understand why he did it–even if I prefer the story didn’t call for him to do it in the first place.

On the whole, I enjoyed Man of Steel. It’s not a perfect film (it is the weakest film in the DCEU), but knowing the seeds it’s planting for the shared universe endears it in many ways. It also helps that it created amazing female characters and gave Henry Cavill the opportunity to put on nerd glasses as Clark Kent. I am more than pleased I gave Man of Steel another chance. It reminded me how much I love these characters–even if they weren’t quite what I expected to see.

Next up, Batman v Superman!

Who is your favorite Superman?

Image Source: Movie-Screencaps

{Book Review} The Girl With All the Gifts

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Melanie lives in the bunker and knows very little of what exists outside the little world of her cell, showers, and classroom. She spends most days studying math, science, literature, and history while locked in a wheelchair–the only bright spot in her days being when her teacher is Miss Justineau. She doesn’t know a different life so her limited experience is not strange to her. There are times, however, when she is curious about the outside world and the secrets those at the bunker are obviously keeping from her.

Unfortunately for them all, Melanie will have the opportunity to discover them.  

The Girl With All the Gifts is an action-packed, popular Sci-Fi novel in the vein of Blake Crouch’s Dark Matter or Wayward Pines series. These books are emphatically not thoughtful, character-driven novels. They’re plot-driven, high concept rushes–perfect for movie or TV series adaptations and people needing an engaging, quick read (i.e. they’re great reading slump busters). None of that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes you need fluff with teeth. I certainly did when I picked up this book.  

M. R. Carey (a.k.a. Mike Carey of comic book writing fame) never lets us readers take a breath or forget the high stakes in The Girl With All the Gifts. You know the very lives of Melanie, Miss Justineau, and their companions are on the line as things go from bad to worse at the bunker and you’re waiting for something truly awful to happen to them. In that respect, you might be disappointed. There’s not *quite* so much death and mayhem here as you might like (okay, I might like), but what Carey’s novel lacks in excessive blood and gore, it makes up for in the mounting terror that infects each of the characters. The most frightening aspects of The Girl With All the Gifts aren’t violent but rather psychological because, while the writing is reminiscent of Blake Crouch, the story is cousin to Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and Childhood’s End.

What I liked most about the novel was watching Melanie’s limited experience of the world widen. As she learns more about humanity and what happened to the England outside of her cell, it’s fascinating to see how she deals with the logical ramifications of her knew knowledge. Melanie might be a child, but she is fearless in the face of mounting danger and is a genius who is able to extrapolate truths from the facts she learns from her companions. Both of those things make her dangerous–both to her enemies and possibly even to her friends.     

While Melanie’s story in The Girl With All the Gifts is thoroughly entertaining and frightening, it doesn’t quite make for the perfect action juggernaut. There are plot holes and the characters’ depth is shallow at best (most notably with the onenote villain). The plot maybe relentless, but the first act is a slow enough burn that it’s difficult to get through if you don’t already know where the story is going. None of this makes the book unreadable. It just makes it no shocker that I struggled through the first 150 pages but read the remaining 250 in one day. There are obviously worse faults to have, but I don’t think The Girl With All the Gifts is a book I’ll reread because of them.

If you like thrilling Sci-Fi/Horror or are looking for a book to break you out of that reading slump, definitely give The Girl With All the Gifts a chance. It’s not a perfect read, but it will wrap you up in it’s chilly embrace and refuse to let go.
Do you have any books you’d recommend to end a reading slump?

Top Ten Graphic Novels for Summer Vacation

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Joining in on The Broke and the Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday again. This week’s theme is Summer Reads!

When the days turn warm and the sun starts shining, it’s time to put away comics filled with horror, dystopia, and darkness and turn to lighter fare. Tales of friendship, adventure, and mystery can be a welcome relief from all the monochrome and murder–especially when illustrated in radiant pinks, yellows, and blues.

If you’re looking for something to tuck into your beach bag or read at the park on a sunny day, these ten graphic novels suit as well as any breezy beach read.

Top Ten Graphic Novels for Summer Vacation   

  • Archie Vol. 1: The New Riverdale by Mark Waid, Fiona Staples, Veronica Fish, and Annie Wu ~ If you’ve never read Archie Comics before, The New Riverdale is the perfect place to start. The art is breathtaking and the writing is guaranteed to make you giggle. This sure isn’t Riverdale–which makes it perfect sit in the sunshine reading.
  • Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh ~ Brosh’s comic deals with heavy topics like depression, but it’s also sprinkled with HILARIOUS stories about her childhood and awkward misadventures. Warning: Do Not Read This Book In Public Unless You Are Comfortable Getting Weird Looks From Strangers Because Of Laughter.
  • Zodiac Starforce: By the Power of Astra by Kenneth Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau ~ Do you like magic girls? Yes? Then read Zodiac Starforce! It’s about teen girls saving the world with their magical abilities–all while wearing cool outfits and being BFFs!
  • Patsy Walker a.k.a Hellcat Vol. 1 by Kate Leth,  Brittney Williams, Megan Wilson, Joe Sabino, and Clayton Cowles ~ Patsy Walker, unfortunately, wound to a close a couple of weeks ago, but it’s a series that’s highly worth checking out if you’re up for female friendship, cat jokes, and butt-kicking.  
  • Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk ~ If you like how awesome Bobbie is in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this is a series for you. It’s funny, bright, and features a strong female character who breaks that now-traditional mould. There’s also Hawkeye in a swimsuit, if that suits your fancy.
  • Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton ~ One rule of recommending comics is to always recommend Kate Beaton. Her work is the perfect mix if you’re drawn to pop culture nerdery and riffs on history and literature (i.e. if you majored in History or English).   
  • Groot by Jeff Loveness and Brian Kesinger ~ You shouldn’t need a reason to read a Groot comic, but the selling point for this volume, in particula,r is that it contains art by Brian Kesinger–an animator who worked at Walt Disney Studios. The art is very Disney-fied as a result and absolutely adorable.
  • Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral by by Tom King, Tim Seeley, Jeremy Cox, Mikel Janin, Stephen Mooney, Guillermo Ortego, Juan Castro, Jonathan Glapion , Carlos M. Mangual ~ A little something for the ladies! Grayson is an action, adventure spy comic written by the fabulous Tom King (check out his current run on Batman and his work on The Vision for non-Summer appropriate fare), but of course, the writing isn’t what’s most memorable about Grayson. It’s the art. The very, very nice art.  
  • Green Arrow Vol. 1 by Benjamin Percy and Otto Schmidt ~ Green Arrow is one of the most memorable DC Rebirth titles. The art, in particular, is lovely and Black Canary absolutely rocks as she goes toe-to-toe with Ollie once again.
  • Goldie Vance Vol. 1 by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams ~ Goldie Vance is a modern Nancy Drew with mad driving skills and a nose for trouble. Basically, there’s nothing to dislike about this fun romp of a series.

What comic would you recommend reading this Summer?

{Animated Adventures} Gravity Falls

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There can be benefits to having insomnia. Occasionally, you stumble across a gem while scrolling through Hulu Plus at 2 A.M..

Last month, I had a run of sleepless nights so I quickly exhausted my backlog of New Girl and The Mindy Project episodes. I needed to fill another hour of sleeplessness so I decided to take my friend’s recommendation and try a little show called Gravity Falls.

I am so glad I did.

Gravity Falls is an X-Files-like show that aired on The Disney Channel from 2012-2016. (Don’t let that four year gap lean you on. There are only two seasons of this show.) It follows the adventures of twins Dipper and Mabel Pines as they visit their Grunkle Stan in the titled town.  

Like many fictionalized towns in the Pacific Northwest, Gravity Falls has its share of secrets, mysteries, and quirky characters for the twins to encounter. Grunkle Stan also happens to run the Mystery Shack–which unsurprisingly is the center of a fair bit of weirdness itself. Over the course of the series, Mabel and Dipper encounter gnomes, unicorns, a self-aware dating game, and a triangle bent on world domination. These misadventures are often reminiscent of classic Sci Fi, Fantasy, and Horror stories–making this series perfect viewing for the pop culture nerds of all ages.

Along with these homages and otherwise wacky stories, Gravity Falls boasts of amazing characters with depth and originality. Mabel is adorable, loyal, and adventurous while her brother is more cerebral and curious. As for Stan, well, he might be a con man on the outside but he loves his family more than anything deep down. It really is amazing how these characters always manage to ground Gravity Falls in reality even when they’re dealing with monsters and the end of the world.     

The animation and voice-acting are also first rate. Jason Ritter and Kristen Schaal are particularly amazing as Dipper and Mabel, but I adored Nathan Fillion, Chelsea Peretti, Nick Offerman, and Neil deGrasse Tyson’s guest appearances as well. Alex Hirsch, Gravity Falls’ showrunner, is even more brilliant as Grunkle Stan. Seriously, him being able to create this show and voice-act so well is beyond impressive!   

Now, you should know that your preference for the first or second season of Gravity Falls will entirely depend on whether you are partial to serialized or episodic storytelling in your animated shows. Personally, I prefer episodic so it’s not surprising then that, while I enjoyed the second season, I loved Gravity Falls’ first season so much more. I adored the humor in the stand alone episodes, the quirky homages, and the gradual character development of Dipper, Mabel, and Grunkle Stan. Once the story switched gears in Season Two to build up to the grand finale (Alex Hirsch knew he was ending the show after Season Two), most of the humor’s lost and the homages nearly disappeared (except for one notable Dungeons and Dragons episode). Of course, none of that stopped me nearly giving into tears when the finale wound to a close. Gravity Falls always excelled in creating memorable, complicated characters so that, even when the tone and storytelling style of the show changed, I was still incredibly invested in their stories.

While I wish Gravity Falls could have developed its weird world in future seasons, I’m glad that the creator got to tell Dipper, Mabel, and Stan’s story on his terms. Gravity Falls is a perfect snapshot of a show. It left me wanting more, but I am completely satisfied with the two seasons I was given.

I highly, highly recommend checking out Gravity Falls if you love wacky stories, engaging characters, and animated pigs.

What is your favorite animated television show?

Image Source: Kiss Them Goodbye 

My Top 7 Picks for the 13th Doctor

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It’s been official for awhile now, but Peter Capaldi is leaving Doctor Who during the Christmas Special later this year. I’m sorry to see Capaldi leave. . .this season. I would have liked him to stick around one more year with the new showrunner Chris Chibnall so we could see what he could do with a competent head writer. He had so much potential as the Doctor, but I feel like he’s been wasted more often than not during his tenure.

In spite of that, I can’t be truly upset that it’s time for a new Doctor. The nature of the show is change and it’s always exciting to get someone different in the TARDIS. According to some gossips, the new actor in the role is Kris Marshall. I, however, prefer to believe that’s all guesswork and supposition (at least, until the show releases anything official). To top that off, Kris Marshall reminds me of Shaggy from Scooby Doo–which is not a selling point in his favor.

Like everyone else, I have top picks for who I’d like to see in the role. Many are the same actors I was dreaming of when Capaldi was cast all those years ago, but who knows, maybe this time they’ll get the role!

My Top 7 Picks for the 13th Doctor  

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Sue Perkins ~ If I had to choose, Sue Perkins would be my top pick for the Doctor. Obviously, she was fantastic as the co-host of The Great British Bake Off, but she’s great in Supersizers Go. . . as well. Sue could definitely bring madcap humor and heart to the role.

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Miranda Hart ~ Miranda is my second choice, but only because her humor primary rests on her awkwardness (physical and otherwise)–which could make dealing smoothly with aliens and all that running difficult! Still, it might be nice to have a Doctor who’s not totally savvy for once.    

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Damien Molony ~ As will become increasingly evident as this list goes on, I’m a huge fan of Being Human, and Damien Molony as Hal was one of my favorite things about that show. As an actor, he can balance being charming, frightening, and awkward in just the right degree to make him a perfect Doctor (and he’s quite young and cute–which could be nice switch up from curmudgeonly Capaldi).

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Richard  Ayoade ~ Of course, Ayoade’s an obvious choice for Doctor. He’d be hilarious in the role, but he doesn’t top my list solely because we’ve just had an emotionally reserved Doctor. I feel like it’s time to have someone with a bit more heart a.k.a. more along the lines of Tennant or Eccleston.

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Russell Tovey ~ Another Being Human alumi, Russell Tovey spent the past television season being surprisingly buff on Quantico. He’s got the goofiness, dialogue delivery, and general quirkiness to make him an excellent Doctor too. . .and isn’t it about time we had a Doctor with abs?

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Hayley Atwell ~ Another obvious choice. Hayley was fantastic as Agent Carter, and she deserves another chance at a big role. I *doubt* she would seriously ever be chosen for the Doctor, but it is fun to imagine what she could do with the role.  

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Tom Mison ~ You know who’s free now that Sleepy Hollow is cancelled? Tom Mison. If nothing else, Sleepy Hollow proved that Tom could be excellent at soliloquising and being endlessly curious about new surroundings. He was actually one of my choices to replace Matt Smith, and I’d definitely wish him to be in the running once again.

Who would you like to see at the 13th Doctor?

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{Book Review} A Feast For Crows by George R. R. Martin

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It didn’t take me quite as long to read A Feast for Crows, but my enjoyment level between it and A Storm of Swords can’t even be compared. Once I struggled through the first three hundred pages of A Storm of Swords, I reached the wonder that was simultaneous road trips and Jaime and Brienne BFFing all over the place. A Storm of Swords quickly became my favorite book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series thanks to the antics of Jaime, Tyrion, and Brienne so it came as a shock to find the next book such a trudge.

A Feast for Crows focuses on the stories of the Lannisters (sans Tyrion), the female Starks, the Grejoys, and the Martells. There’s a handful of other characters and families in the mix, but A Feast for Crows keeps it’s eyes on Cersei and her struggle to keep Tommen on the Iron Throne. There’s plots concerning Myrcella, Greyjoys restless for power, Littlefinger playing the long game, and discord in the Lannister House.  The familiar characters plot and scheme while the rest struggle to stay alive.

It’s the same old game of thrones–expect nothing earth shattering happens until the last fifth of the book.

While A Storm of Swords was filled with character development, forward plot momentum, and lots of main character deaths (bye, Joffrey), A Feast for Crows seemed content to drag itself along like a half dead auroch. I struggled and struggled through chapters concerning the Greyjoys (Dear George, please kill these characters off forthwith), and nearly threw the book against the wall whenever Jaime and Cersei’s viewpoint chapters failed to move the plot along whatsoever (I love you, Jaime, but fulfill the prophecy and kill you sis already). It was ridiculous the level to which the plot kept being bogged down with endless characters giving endless history lessons and no one doing anything.

To me, Samwell Tarley’s storyline was the only one with proper character development, emotional stakes, and a plot period. Sam’s never been one of my favorite characters, but I found myself longing for his chapters in A Feast for Crows because I wanted to know what happened next to he and Gilly on their journey to Oldtown. I can’t say I looked forward to reading any other character in this entire book and that’s a shame.

What A Feast of Crows really needed was a heavy hand when it came to editing. So much of this book felt unnecessary and indulgent. I understand that some fantasy readers might love the breadth of his worldbuilding, but George R. R. Martin allowed backstory to bog down his actual story and it was problematic. If George R. R. Martin had cut a significant chunk of this book or simply consolidated chapters (which he absolutely could have done), it could have combined with A Dance of Dragons–which I can only assume has it’s fair share of filler too.  I’ve always been of the opinion that splitting one book or movie into two leads to trouble (hello, The Hobbit films and Connie Willis’ All Clear series), and A Feast of Crows did not change that opinion.

Now, it might sound like I absolutely loathed A Feast for Crows, but I didn’t. I still fangirled over Jaime even when his story went nowhere and I worried about Sansa, wishing for her to be reunited with Tyrion. I even adored the last one hundred pages and whooped with joy when Cersei finally got some comeuppance. I love these characters and their stories so much that I would absolutely struggle through all manner of Greyjoy chapters for their sake. I just wish I didn’t have to.

Who is your favorite Game of Thrones character? Do you struggle through these books for their sake too?

Top Ten Most Anticipated Summer Movies

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It’s that time of year again. It’s time for blockbusters and superheroes. . .with some sword and sorcery thrown in! While April was a deathly slow movie month, a whole load of exciting movies are gracing the big screen between now and Fall. I know I’m going to be racking up those Regal Movie Rewards thanks to all the films that look AH-MAZING. . .and those others which look just bonkers enough to be worth seeing.

I’ve put together a top ten list of my most anticipated films (in no particular order). Be sure to tell me which movies you’re most looking forward to in the comments!

Top Ten Most Anticipated Summer Movies

Spider-Man: Homecoming ~ I never thought I’d be excited to see a Spider-Man film, but thanks to Captain America: Civil War, I am thrilled to see the webslinger on the big screen again (this will be my first time seeing Spidey since that fateful day I took my cousin to see Spider-Man 3).

War for the Planet of the Apes ~ The new Planet of the Apes films are my favorite Science Fiction movies of all time. (Yes, I love them even more than Star Wars and not just because the second one has Jason Clarke.) I cannot wait to see Andy Serkis knocking it out of the park for the third time in this franchise. It all looks absolutely glorious!

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales ~ I’ve seen every Pirates of the Caribbean film in the theater, and Dead Men Tell No Tales is not going to be an exception. While I am keeping my expectations in check after the mess that was On Stranger Tides (a movie I forget exists more often than not), I do hope Jack, Will, and the gang will pull it together for one more movie.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets ~ The Fifth Element bring me joy so there’s no way I’m not psyched about Luc Besson’s new Sci Fi project. It looks just as bonkers as Jupiter Ascending–which is definitely a selling point for me.

Wonder Woman ~ Wonder Woman, oh, Wonder Woman, I’m so pleased to see you headlining your own movie (with a female director to top it off)! The trailers for the DCEU’s new flick are so promising that I hope, for once, positive reviews will come to the DC Comics’ universe. It’s about time this franchise had a proper win.  

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword ~ Let’s be real: This movie looks wackadoo. . .so it’s obviously on my list of must-watch movies. I remember reading that there are giant elephants in King Arthur (rather like Oliphaunts, perhaps?). Between that and Jude Law as the villain, I need no more reasons to pay for a ticket.

Alien: Covenant ~ While I’m nowhere near brave enough to see this on the big screen, I’ve been scarfing down the trailers and featurettes. Sadly, I will be holding off on viewing this until the DVD release, but that doesn’t quell my excitement at there being not one but two Michael Fassbender androids in one film.

Baby Driver ~ Confession time. The only Edgar Wright film I’ve seen is Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World. I plan on remedying that soon by FINALLY watching the Cornetto Trilogy (a decision made solely after seeing the trailer for Baby Driver–which looks absolutely divine).

The Mummy ~ While Legendary’s MonsterVerse is more my speed, I figure I should check out Universal Monsters from the get-go. To do so, I’ll have to get over my extreme dislike for both Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe–but hey, at least, they’re be rampant destruction and one angry mummy to distract me!

Dark Tower ~ This is one of those films that seems made for me. It’s got everything: Cowboys, inter-dimensional travel, Idris Elba, and a weird fantasy setting! The trailer was breathtaking and 100% gave me an excuse to pick up Stephen King’s series once again.

What films are you most looking forward to this Summer?

Ten Comics to Grab On Free Comic Book Day

Ten Comics.jpgThis Saturday, May 6th, is Free Comic Book Day a.k.a. one of the best geekified days of the year!! I look forward to Free Comic Book Day every year because it’s an awesome way to load up on comics to read for weeks (or months depending on how many you score) to come. Yet again, I’ll be mostly unable to take part in the festivities. I intended to ask for May 6th off work, but of course, I forgot to mark our department’s calendar until too late.

Sigh. Next year, I’ll get to take part. Next year, for sure.

As it is, my very kind mother will be checking the local comic book shop for me since the best I’ll be able to do is run to the downtown shop on my lunch break. (The downtown shop is not my local comic shop so it doesn’t really count in these matters.) If I have time to take pictures, I will–otherwise just expect a comic haul next week.

In case you–unlike me–are able to check out your local shop this Saturday, I concocted a list of ten of the coolest comics to keep an eye out for. (Also, if you don’t know where to find a shop hosting an event, check out this handy-dandy Store Locator.)

Ten Comics to Grab On Free Comic Book Day

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Betty & Veronica #1 / Boom Studios Summer Blast / I Hate Image / Doctor Who / Fresh Off the Boat / Buffy the High School Years/Plants Vs. Zombies / Briggs Land/James Cameron’s Avatar / All New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 / DC Superhero Girls Summer Olympus / Tokyo Disney’s Descendants (Manga)

There’s quite a variety of comics this year, but as always, I’m most excited for Boom! Studios Summer Blast. I adore compilation comics, and theirs always has a fantastic assortment of short stories. I’m also weirdly psyched about the Disney’s Descendant‘s manga. I still haven’t watched the TV movie (something I’ll have to remedy soon), but there’s no way I’m going to miss that issue.

As for a comic that might be suspiciously missing from my list, well, I think I’ll just stick with avoiding Secret Empire like it’s a rotten banana for now.

You should also know that, according to Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets‘ Twitter account, there will be a new Valerian comic tomorrow. It’s not listed on the Free Comic Book Day website so I’m not entirely certain how easy it will be to find (which is why I didn’t include it in my list). If you do come across it, I highly recommend picking that up too!

Oh, one more thing before you go, here’s my list in a shiny and simple image in case you need a little reminder tomorrow!

Betty & Veronica #1Boom Studios Summer BlastI Hate ImageDoctor WhoFresh Off the BoatBuffy the High School Years%2FPlants Vs. ZombiesBriggs Land%2FJames Cameron’s AvatarAll New Guardians of the Galaxy #1DC Superher (1).jpg

So what are you hoping to pick up on Free Comic Book Day?

{Book Review} Eligible: A Modern Pride and Prejudice Retelling

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Mhairi McFarlane’s retelling of Pride and Prejudice spoiled me. I read Here’s Looking at You two years ago, and I still can’t stop thinking about how perfectly it updated Jane Austen’s most popular work to modern day sensibilities. McFarlane impressively managed to keep the spirit of Jane Austen’s writing–the romance, humor, social commentary–without keeping every plot point of the novel in place. Too many of Jane Austen’s revisers slavishly stick to the source material without wondering whether the plot points transition believably to a story set in the 21st century.

One such revisionist is Curtis Sittenfeld, but even as Jane Austen acolytes go, I don’t think I’m completely off-base in calling her Pride and Prejudice retelling, Eligible, a particular train wreck. Unlike McFarlane, Sittenfeld forgoes the spirit of the novel in favor of transcribing the plot and inserting unnecessary twists for shock value.

In Eligible, Liz Bennet and her sister, Jane, leave New York City for Cincinnati after their father has a heart attack. Liz and Jane–the only vaguely respectable and responsible ones in the Bennet family–are forced to take over their father’s care and the maintenance of their parents’ crumbling house since their three sisters and mother claim to be unable to help.

Liz, a writer-at-large for a feminist beauty magazine, spends her days in Cincinnati trying to get an interview with icon Kathy de Bourg, sorting out her father’s astronomical medical bills, and trying not to dwell on her married boyfriend, Jasper Wick.

Jane, on the other hand, has bigger worries. She’s nearly forty and still single so she’s been trying to get pregnant from via artificial insemination. This may or may not have complicated repercussions when she begins falling for the star of a Bachelor-like reality show, Chip Bingley.

With Jane more than preoccupied with her own drama, Liz struggles to keep the family afloat while trying not to get too distracted by the pompous neurosurgeon, Fitzwilliam Darcy–who just so happens to know more about her boyfriend’s past than he’s revealing.

Things go from bad to worse for the Bennet clan over the course of Eligible as couples are ripped apart, spiders infest their already declining home, and Lydia runs off with her boyfriend, Ham–who has a Secret with a capital “S.”

Spoilers Ahead.

Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible has many problems, but the greatest of these is Liz Bennet herself. Somehow, Sittenfeld manages to make one of the most vivacious heroines in English Literature pitiful and annoying. Mostly, this is because she chooses to have Liz pine for scumbag Jasper Wick (our Wickham stand-in) for FOURTEEN YEARS. Unable to move on with her life during that time, Liz allows Wick to string her along through his various marriages until he finally notices her a decade and a half later(!!). They then begin an affair. For me, lead characters having affairs with married men is an absolute deal breaker, but somehow, Sittenfeld manages to make my standard deal breaker even more repellent by having the affair be really, really sad for Liz. She waited for this guy–who is the ABSOLUTE WORST, by the way–for so long. What does that say about her? Nothing good. It makes her come across as weak and pitiful–two words one wouldn’t generally think of as describing Elizabeth Bennet.  

To top that off, Liz is super sarcastic and mean about her sisters. She speaks ill of them to Darcy in a way that I *suspect* is supposed to be self-deprecating but is actually just awful. There’s shockingly none of Elizabeth’s wit present in Liz. Instead, her snarkiness is simply uncomfortable to read and makes her seem like a fifteen year old rather than someone who is thirty-eight.

While on her own Liz’s characterization is enough to make me loathe this novel, it didn’t help matters that I also hated how the other Bennets were presented (so cliched and predictable), the entire Bachelor plotline, and the incredible boringness of Darcy. As a Jane Austen retelling, Eligible is really one of the worst, but it doesn’t help matters that it doesn’t work on it’s own as a Contemporary Romance either. Dull Darcy and Elizabeth simply have no chemistry. I sincerely doubt their relationship would last beyond the last chapter of the novel–which isn’t the feeling I want to have at the end of a romance novel.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend picking up Eligible unless you are in the mood for a hate read. It really was only my rage and morbid curiosity that kept me going to the end of this book. If you like being fueled by rage, by all means, read this book. Otherwise, give it a hard pass and read Bridget Jones’s Diary or Here’s Looking at You instead.

What are your deal breakers in romance novels? Do you have a favorite Jane Austen retelling?