Ready Player One

Ready Player One

Back in my college days, I read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One – believe it or not – for a class.  It was a light, fast-paced read; the kind of book that’s hard to put down and easy to plow through.  But despite its fleeting pleasures, the moment I finished I could feel my inner critic starting to wake up.  The more thought I gave Ready Player One, the more cynical my attitude towards it became.  Could this collection of pop-culture references tacked onto a generic treasure-hunt plot even be called a novel?  These doubts grew so quickly that they completely tarnished my previous enjoyment of the book, and soon I felt duped for having bought into it in the first place. Continue reading

Annihilation

annihilation

Annihilation is a hard movie to categorize; not because defies genre categories, but because it samples so many of them.  Like the strange creatures that inhabit its world, it’s a hybrid; blending together science-fiction, drama, and horror to potent effect.  The structure of its first-act setup is pure adventure, beginning with the return of Lena’s (Natalie Portman) husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) long after he went missing on a classified government mission.  It’s immediately clear that something is very wrong with him, both physically and mentally.  When Lena tries to get her husband to the hospital, the government swoops in and abducts them both to a secret location, where they isolate her and reveal what’s responsible for his condition.  Continue reading

Netflix Review: The Cloverfield Paradox

Cloverfield paradox

If nothing else, The Cloverfield Paradox is an interesting – if dubiously effective – experiment in advertising.  Informing the masses of its existence via a short Super Bowl ad, it attracted a fair 750,000 viewers later that night.  The series itself remains something of a novelty in the age of producers endlessly mining the same vein to diminishing returns: a loose series of movies that share the same name and universe, but are hugely unalike in terms of tone, scale, and genre.  Cloverfield was a found-footage kaiju movie, 10 Cloverfield Lane was a claustrophobic thriller, and now we have The Cloverfield Paradox, a…space movie? Continue reading

Star Wars: The Last Jedi

last jedi

Welcome back, readers!  I hope you all had a happy holiday, and consider this a moderate spoiler warning.

Let me start by saying this: I didn’t like The Force Awakens.  I found it to be a shameless rip-off of A New Hope, as well as the embodiment of the most cynical accusations ever leveled against the series, helmed by none other than marketing genius and professional franchise-milker J.J. Abrams.  Thankfully, The Last Jedi is an improvement over that clunker in every respect. Continue reading

Alien: Covenant is a Welcher

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Alien lays egg, egg hatches facehugger, facehugger hugs face, chestburster bursts chest.  The Xenomorph lifecycle used to be so simple, yet with Ridley Scott’s latest two movies it’s becoming needlessly complicated, not to mention self-contradicting.  The same could be said of Alien: Covenant’s plot anytime it attempts to expand the franchise’s lore – the same misguided choice that ended up sinking Prometheus.  Thankfully it never hits the lows of that mess, but at times it comes dangerously close. Continue reading