Good day readers, friends, enemies, and the thing which lives in the loft.
I thought I would begin a new semi-regular segment here, where I give an overviw of my favourite media consumed over the month, be it books, games, TV, movies or whatever takes my fancy.
However, since I’ve not blogged in a while, I will take the opportunity to cram in my brief thoughts on a few other things I’ve been watching in the months before. I know I’m breaking the format of my blog series in the first edition, but what the hell.
Without further ado:
Game of Thrones Season 6 – I was late to the game for this, having to wait for the show to finish airing before I could buy it via Amazon, but blimey it was worth the wait. It had spectacular battles, intrigue, tragic deaths and revelations aplenty, everything I expect in a fantastic season of Game of Thrones. We’re off the reservation now, beyond the books, and here be monsters.
The Dorne storyline however almost spoiled this season, and it was mercifully only on screen for three scenes. The Sandsnakes are narrative poison, and it continues to confound me that the showrunners have changed a maligned storyline from the books, and somehow made it far worse.
I was also a little disappointed in Euron. Book Euron is like some demented Conan villain: horrendously evil but undeniably entertaining. I hope they give him more to do next season, which I cannot wait for!
Preacher, Season 1 – Speaking of demented, I have also been watching Preacher, one of perhaps the craziest show being broadcast right now. Based on the comic of the same name, Dominic Cooper and the rest of the cast of this show utterly kill it as an eccentric, stylised Texan metaphysical odyssey. Angels, demons, vampires and cowboys, this show never has a dull moment. It has a breakneck tempo, yet it doesn’t spoonfeed you the plot. The central mystery of Genesis and just precisely what’s going on is being slowly unravelled each week, and I’m loving it.
Stranger Things, Season 1 – Imagine if Spielberg in his prime had decided to adapt a Stephen King novel for TV, and you get some idea of the style of this show. The child stars are excellent, the story seamlessly shifts between a fun boyhood adventure, a harrowing story of a mother unwilling to give up on her missing child, and an excellent horror story. Stranger Things plays with all the standard 80s genre tropes, oftentimes playing them straight, which makes the scenes when they subvert them all the more satisfying. What I loved msot about this show is that despite paying homage to many eighties movies, it is not a reboot, sequel or adaptation of an existing story. It is rare to get truly good original content recently, and the Duffer Brothers show it is not only possible, it is preferable. My good friend James Fadeley has a more in-depth review of this show on his blog, so check it out.
Continuum – I have recently discovered this show on netflix, and the first few episodes have intrigued me. Loving the aesthetics of the future world, and the potential of time travel shenanigans going forward.
Rick and Morty
I have binged both seasons of this most excellent cartoon from Adult Swim. Following the adventures of Rick Sanchez and his reluctant grandson Morty, this show is almost a parody of Back to the Future, but is more like a nihilistic and cynical take on sci-fi adventures like Doctor Who, showing how messed up actual adventures in space ad parallel dimensions would be. Rick Sanchez; irreverent, bitter alcoholic misanthrope, is one of my new favourite comedy characters. This show feels like a darker successor for Futurama, with an ever expanding complex backstory and mythology, alongside some interesting and surprisingly poignant family drama. Plus, it is really funny, with tons of clever little in-jokes and easter eggs for the eagle-eyed viewers. Brilliant.
Captain America: Civil War – This is a spectacularly late review, but for what it’s worth, this is possibly one of the best MCU movies put to screen so far. The Russo brothers show how superhero battles are supposed to look on screen. They give us one of the most sympathetic and surprisingly effective MCU villains since Loki, and actually improve upon their Civil War source material by contextualising it within the solid foundation of the great body of movies preceding them. Marvel have finally got a comic book continuity on screen, both film and TV, and with such strong movie behind them, I can’t wait to see where the MCU hype train goes next.
Independence Day: Resurgence – This was a disappointment. A very interesting premise, but I wish we’d seen the sequel which happened between this and the first movie. Most of the goofy charm of the firt one is lost. The quips in this are forced, and somehow the stakes seem far less, even though the alien ship is bigger and more deadly. The locusts have become another crap hollywood hive mind, and their queen is a spectacular narrative misstep in my opinion.
Star Trek Beyond:
Now if you want an actually good sci-fi movie this summer, you can’t go wrong with this. The third nuTrek movie, this one is far better than Into Darkness. Instead of pillaging story beats from old movies int he franchise, it has a new original story, which pays homage and hints at the original series, showing a love for the source material which shows it was written by a Trek fan, and not a Star Wars one as with the first nuTrek movie.
The sets and locations are beautiful and wonderfully sci-fi. You feel the scale of the starbase USS Yorktown, and Idris Elba’s villain has a good twist. The cast of the Enterprise crew finally feel like theya re gelling as a team, and the new addition of Jaylah is welcome as another female to dilute the overly male cast. There’s a touching tribute to Nimoy too, which gels neatly with the story and doesn’t feel tacked on.
The trailers for this film are terrible, so ignore them and go see the movie immediately.
Ketchup on Everything, by Nathan Robinson – A neat little horror novella, which very effectively depicts the harrowing experience of a father to an abducted child. There is a twist, which I won’t spoil, but appreciation of this novella is not contingent upon it.
Eve of War, by various –
Published by Fox Spirit Books, this anthology is linked by the theme of female warriors and fighters. I’m only two stories in, and both have been marvellous. I will likely do a full review of this in a future blog, so look out for that.
The Beast Arises, by various – A bit of a cheat as this is an ongoing series published every month this year by Black Library. Nevertheless, I consider this series to be one gargantuan novel, told over twelve volumes, and it works really well when read in this light. It depicts the Warhammer 40K universe in a previously unknown period of its history, and is ideal for readers who are well-versed in the exisitng mythos. For those fans, I will tell you this; you have never seen Orks as scary and evil as i this series. Also, pay close attention to Drakan Vangoritch. He’ll be important in the future…
Best Served Cold, by Joe Abercrombie – A dark and cynical tale of revenge in a hot-blooded land of warring city states not unlike medieval Italy, this is one of Joe’s brilliant standalones set in his First Law universe. Full of witty traitors and viscious psychopaths, this book is what you’d expect from Lord Grimdark himself.
That’s it for now folks. Let me know in the comments what genre media is blowing your hair back this month.
Bt for now, I must slither back into my lair, until the next time…