***This review is a review of the book AND movie***
So I read Twilight. . .hold on. . .
(*stretches*...moreReprinted from my website Secure Immaturity
***This review is a review of the book AND movie***
So I read Twilight. . .hold on. . .
(*stretches* *sighs* *chugs liter of Vodka*)
Phew. . .takes the edge off. Anyways, what was I saying? Oh yeah. I read Twilight. (*sighs*). That was. . .fun. It was. I’m not being sarcastic. It’s cute. It’s cute if you’re a 12 year old girl whose never felt the pain of actual love and the dark lonely pit of despair it puts you in. God damn you Twilight: I HATE YOUR INNOCENCE. I HATE YOU. DIE. DIE. DIE. Okay. . .sorry. Lost it there. I did, really, enjoy the book. It’s not very often you get to see innocent, basic love especially in the mainstream world of indecency and smut. It’s nice to see a boy and girl meet each other, fall in love and basically live happily ever after (at least until book 2). It’s just too bad that these basic and lovely themes couldn’t be written more competently. The intentions are good. . .but the delivery is poor. Here is how Twilight read to me:
I stared at his broad chest as it glistened through the limited light of Forks’ overcast skies. I drooled. He stared at me. He smiled a devastatingly beautiful smile. Then his face turned brutal. He looked like he was going to rip out my spine. He then smiled again and I was bathed in his beautiful, chiseled body again.
“You’re. . .so. . .amazing,” I said with my face looking directly into the ground.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” he replied first smiling, then frowning and then smiling. He looked up confused and tortured.
“Even a blind squirrel finds a nut,” I say with a smirk. I frown realizing I’m not funny.
He laughs. Then he scowls in anger. He is tortured. But he is happy. “I love you Bella. I want to eat you. But I won’t. Stay away from me. I love you. Let’s sleep together. . .no funny business of course. Go away.”
I laugh then I pout. “Do you ever have urges?”
“I am a man,” he says with a mythic frown. His colonial chest takes a massive industrial sigh.He’s from a different time. His gaze was straight from the Renaissance but his emotions were pure Radiohead. I am reminded of Phoenix where I was a social outcast and no one wanted me. I frown. I smile. I frown. I smile. He frowns. I smile. He smiles. I frown. We kiss and I feel like my tongue has hit the marble slab at an ice creamery and I feel so cold and I love him. I can’t stop loving him.
“I love you,” he says. I smile. He frowns.
“I love you too,” I say back with a frile.
“I love you,” he continues. He puts his face on my neck. Though clearly an odd sign of affection, I love him. He looks at me with agony. He smiles.
And on and on and on. Not only does my black, unfeeling heart have to go on a date with these people for 397 pages, but I have to endure their immensely complex feelings. To me, these people are bi-polar maniacs! They deserve each other. At least the book TRIES to explain why they love each other. The movie doesn’t fair so well (more on that later).
But while Twilight’s intentions make it, if not a must read, a recommended read, I also recommend this book because it contains the world’s worst written character in the history of all literature and all media. Bella Swan is a disaster. She causes rips in the space-time continuum, disrupts the cosmos and nullifies the existence of God. Bella is hate. Bella is evil. The character exists to wreak havoc on the universe; From her inability to perform physical acts (her every move causes pain to others and disrupts the fabric of time and space) to her existence as an alpha female (every god damn character in Twilight wants a piece of Bella. . .and it isn’t deserved). She plays characters to suit her needs and cares not for the consequences and walks into situations and literally disrupts their very existence, displacing their peace and serenity and causing nothing but stress.
I read Twilight waiting for the great hand of God to swoop down and end her destructive ride through the world. But unfortunately there are three more books in which she can inflict her evil upon me. I wish her death and as I read each page I was waiting for her death or at least pain to be delivered upon her. Sometimes her pratfalls and her confusion was enough to make me smile. As long as Bella feels some pain, I am happy.
And now we go to the movie. Kristen Stewart’s performance as Bella doesn’t make me like the character any more. In fact, my Ahabish wish to eliminate her from this plane of existence is only intensified by Stewart’s truly horrifying performance. While Edward is played as if he is sporting wood the entire performance, he at least pulls off the tortured, emo thing the book was aiming for. Stewart is not only playing my least favorite literary character but she has managed to become my least favorite actress. Her bland and ‘I’m acting with and only with a stone-wall’ performance makes Twilight pretty unbearable.
But thankfully, for Stewart, the vampire effects are so goofy that you can forget about Bella and fall off your couch laughing. When Edward does his first ‘run’ through the forest, I had to rewind it so shocked I was that something that awful was put to film. Worse was when Edward and his family face off against a group of renegade vampires. It looks like West Side Story but more gay. . .and with goth kids. Much like the book, the movie is so awful it becomes enjoyable. Hell, Twilight is a classic in my view.
All joking aside, Twilight, the film, is shot pretty well and has all the intentions the book had. And it made $900 billion dollars which guarantees we have a franchise on our hands. I’ll probably be reading the other books (mainly because I heard Bella’s heart is broken in the second book and that would bring me all sorts of pleasure) and will watch the other movies once they are released on video. Twilight is a strange enigma. It’s simultaneously dreadful and fun and you can’t ask for anything more entertaining. (less)
I’m trying to ease my way back into fiction ever since I got burned out on the very subject after earning...moreReprinted from my website Secure Immaturity:
I’m trying to ease my way back into fiction ever since I got burned out on the very subject after earning my degree in English Literature at Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University. I just read too much. . .if that’s possible. . .and needed a break. For the last five years I’ve read endless history books and biographies. Hell, I’ve even read science books. I just abandoned fiction entirely. But lately I’ve needed some kind of escapism and frankly, history can’t offer as much escapism as alien worlds can. So I decided, to ease my way back, I’d start with some media tie-in fiction.
Most media tie-ins are absolutely dreadful to read. Having read 100+ Star Trek books in my youth (okay, I won’t lie. . .I stopped in 2001!) they can become addicting BUT, when revisited as an older gentleman, are exposed for the horrible outputs of schlock they are. So when I searched for interesting media tie-in material I was immensely picky. I wanted to dabble in the Halo books but decided to hold off. The story in the games were awkward enough that glorified fan fic seemed like a dreadful exposure back into the fiction world.
So I did some research and stumbled upon two Mass Effect books. Mass Effect is not only my all-time favorite video game but I feel it’s story rivals that of most cinema and is masterfully constructed. The books also had the added bonus of being written by the game’s writer, Drew Karpyshyn, who, along with Mass Effect, wrote the popular Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic video game which blows away any of that prequels’ hack scripts.
The book I chose was Mass Effect Revelation because it was a direct prequel to events described in the game. The second book, Mass Effect Ascension, is more an original story set in the universe so, for purposes of gentle ease, I chose something familiar. In the game Mass Effect, you meet with a legendary human captain named David Anderson (voiced by Keith David). Through investigation you discover that Captain Anderson has a rocky history with the game’s principal villain Saren, a Turian Spectre (Turian being his race and Spectre being his standing with the Council, the galaxy’s leaders run by the most advanced species. Spectres are agents of the Council and have virtually no restrictions on how they investigate crimes, kidnappings etc.).
Mass Effect Revelation decides to focus on the events between Anderson and Saren. And while that is the carrot, the stick is the further development of the Mass Effect universe, most especially the infancy of humanity’s ventures into space. In the Mass Effect universe, and unlike most science fiction franchises, humans are relatively new to the universal community (thanks to discovered technology) but are considered ‘bullies’ and, though young, immensely dangerous. Their power rivals all the other powerful species. In the game, humans are on the brink of great power. In the book, humans are still trying to feel their way through the politics of the universe. This makes for very intriguing storytelling.
The first thing that tripped me out about reading the book though is the locations and setting. Since Mass Effect is a free form RPG you have a chance to explore your environment at your own pace and go almost anywhere. In the book, when the author takes the characters (some of which you have ’spoken’ to in the game) to certain locations you have the odd third person perspective of having ‘been there’. When Captain Anderson (a Lt. in the book) enters Chora’s Den, a key location in the game, you become instantly familiar with the place since you’ve technically been there yourself. It’s kind of odd but also very fun to be a part of. I’ve had little experience with this phenomenon.
The book also does a good job of not spoon feeding the universe to the reader. You’d only read this book if you played the game so the author spends no time creating cute allusions to the game or setting up loooooong descriptions of settings or races. Besides a few necessary descriptions of setting or time, Mass Effect Revelation excels in letting the universe speak for itself. The book also doesn’t suffer from prequel syndrome in which the story of the book HAS to connect to the game. Though the outcome of Anderson/Saren’s mission together is known by those who’ve played the game, how they get there and what you discover about them is the fun: the journey, not the destination.
The bonus is the development of Captain Anderson. When I inevitably play Mass Effect again, I will understand Captain Anderson and like more a character I already care for. Saren, however, suffers a little in the book. In Mass Effect (SPOILERS), I got the impression that Saren was an unwilling participant in the evil goings-on due to Sovereign’s Indoctrination (long story, play the game). His past is given some darkness but he seemed by no means evil. But Mass Effect Revelation provides no such ambiguity for the character and gives him no benefit of the doubt: Saren is bad. . .he just needed that extra push to make him psychotic in the game. I wanted to like Saren a bit and feel for him when he eventually falls. . .but alas I have to accept him as full villain now without any grey.
No other characters from the game show up which is another bonus. The story feels isolated but, thanks to great writing in the book AND game, has a fully fleshed out universe. The book won’t challenge fiction readers everywhere but if you want something to pass the time (or to ease you back into fiction) and you love the video game then I can’t think of anything better then this book. It expands your love of the game and doesn’t make you feel stupid for doing so!(less)
When you step away from fiction for half a decade like I did and then immerse yourself back into it you re...moreReprinted from my website Secure Immaturity:
When you step away from fiction for half a decade like I did and then immerse yourself back into it you realize how atrophied your brain comes to simple imagination. Whether we like it or not, the world has become obsessed with the visual medium. Why imagine something when someone can just show it to you. But even in the non-fiction reading world, where I have lived for most of the last five years, imagination is at a minimum and a premium: if you’re reading about history, you have some interest in it already and some rudimentary knowledge of its existence already.
Though I have a degree in English Literature I was shocked how my brain literally retarded itself from thinking for itself. But like some sort of odd self preservation I knew I had to get back into fiction again because, well, I was becoming a history-spouting machine with no creativity: I am Borg: would you like to know about the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. DROOOOOOOOONE. As I mentioned in a previous review, I decided to slowly massage the imagination muscles by reading media-tie in novels. . .most notably Mass Effect Revelation.
So impressed was I with that book that I decided I’d go to that book’s sequel of sorts, Mass Effect Ascension, written by the same author: Drew Karpyshyn. Mass Effect Revelation was the perfect book to start fiction again with: characters I knew, settings I had literally been to and exposition I already was aware of (kind of like a fake-history book). Mass Effect Ascension is the third book on my Fiction-Recovery-Tour (after Hyperion) and, thankfully, it moves beyond the familiar and demands more imagination.
Mass Effect Ascension is a sequel to both the video game and the first book. The first book took place almost two decades before the first video game (Mass Effect) and explained some back story of the games characters. Ascension takes place after the video game with a character from the first book but creates its own storyline that has no effect on the video game or the first book. It is, as the creators of Soldier would call it, a sidequel, of sorts. And this is very unique. . .and enjoyable. For one, I had a deep history to look back on: events from a book that were mentioned in passing in the game, and background elements from the game. Ascension was both layered with history but also striking out on its own.
Kahlee Sanders, the scientist we met in Revelation, is one of the head teachers at the Ascension Project, a school for biotic humans (humans who can manipulate mass effect fields in everyday life). Her star pupil is Gillian Grayson, a troubled girl who is, for lack of a better phrase, the ‘chosen one’ of biotic humans. She’s more powerful then the other children but her power also limits her socially: she’s monotone, near-allergic to touch and stares at walls all day. Along with burly security chief Hendel, Kahlee makes sure to keep a special eye on Gillian at all times.
Little does Kahlee know but Gillian’s dad (Paul Grayson), though loving towards his daughter, is working for the dangerous group Cerberus led by their leader The Illusive Man. Gillian’s existence in the Ascension Project is all Cerberus’ doing and Grayson, a former assassin, is pulling double duty when he visits his girl: saying hello and giving her drugs through agents within the program. Cerberus thinks biotic humans can help humans move past dastardly aliens and Gillian, it seems, is the key. Naturally, Kahlee and Hendel catch on and the race to keep Gillian safe and Cerberus away is on.
In many ways, Ascension is more successful then Revelation story-wise. While Revelation had a lot of room to breath, it still had plot points it had to hit due to those plot points being brought up in the video game (thus making them canon). Ascension takes only vague ideas from the video game (Cerberus, the Quarian Migrant Fleet) and uses them in the plot. Since the video game hasn’t fully canonized some of these elements either visually or plot-wise (at least completely) the book has freedom to stretch and the reader has freedom to imagine. That said, part of media tie-in novels’ enjoyment level is the familiar. Sometimes you want to carry on the adventures of those you literally played with.
Ascension therefore is less fun then Revelation. But that doesn’t take away its high ‘production’ value. Karpyshyn has the greatest knack for explaining characters, setting and, most especially, action sequences, in the simplest of ways. Exposition is not really needed: the characters naturally think and move like humans (or, well, aliens, I guess). Plot points or back story is brought up naturally and not forced. Kahlee Sanders, for example, can explain her history with video-game character Captain Anderson without feeling like Zack Morris saying ‘freeze’. This, trust me, is a gift. Ascension, in such a short time, tells so much story by not wasting time explaining things.
My initial trouble was with the beginning of the book. The video game has two major endings possible and within those endings four or five possible outcomes (if that makes sense). When the book referenced events from the end of the game, I was nervous. Thanks to certain characters I created and certain outcomes I had the Mass Effect universe all figured out. Thankfully though, Karpyshyn left things vague so that any of the endings you chose fit: that is so frickin’ cool! At some points in the book a characters dialogue can mean something so different based on the ending you chose in the game without upending the plot of the book.
Of course Karpyshyn gets caught in his own plot and somewhere in the middle the book drags heavily. Revelation ends up being the better book because it never lagged and was always exciting. Some parts of Ascension were a chore but that might be because, generally, I am not a fan of some of the aspects Karpyshyn brings up. In the game, the character I avoided the most was the Quarian Tali. She was, at first anyways, the only character I found annoying. Ascension, if you hate Quarians, is not the book for you (there is a Quarian on the cover so be warned) because a lot of it has to do with Quarians.
That said, once Karpyshyn shakes off some shaky middle parts and gets to actual Quarian environments (as opposed to just back story) I was sucked back in and appreciated those dudes a lot more. In fact, the perception you have of Quarians from the game (annoying, vagabond, gypsy types) is what some of the characters in the book carry as well and, like the characters in the book, you end up changing and opening your mind. I can’t explain how really interesting this is. Once again, Karpyshyn manages to get you involved in the book with ideas you literally experienced yourself in the video game (in Revelation it was visiting worlds and places you had literally ‘been to’).
If you are choosing between the two then I’d say go with Revelation but Ascension is not a bad book at all to read. In fact, I’ve been aching for a little more Mass Effect fiction but alas only two (and a forthcoming comic) exist. Oh well. . .Mass Effect 2 comes out in January and when you find me dead in my living room from 110 straight hours of play and no eating, you’ll know why! (less)
I’m trying to love Craig Ferguson while I can because let’s face it world. . .Craig Ferguson is coming! I’...moreReprinted from my website Secure Immaturity:
I’m trying to love Craig Ferguson while I can because let’s face it world. . .Craig Ferguson is coming! I’m not one of those intellectual yuppies who hates anything mainstream but there is, admittedly, something really fun about liking something cult or limited in appeal because, well, you are kind of the hip (or hipster) guy or gal who caught on to something early. Craig Ferguson, and his late night talk show The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, is something cult. . .for now. Soon, the man will be in every one’s living room and that, while not any less entertaining, does damage the small world he once inhabited.
I’ve felt that Craig Ferguson has been the best talk show host for awhile now. I never deliberately watched him but whenever he was on or I caught an interview with him by accident or because I wasn’t watching a hundred other things, Ferguson always lit up my living/bedroom. He was/is spontaneous, witty, bizarre and odd but never, ever boring. Even David Letterman, who I always held as a late night champion over the Lenos and O’Briens of the world, can get dull from time to time. Ferguson, now a regular fixture at 12:15 on my bedroom television, never disappoints or loses his edge. And the United States is starting to pick up on it.
While his ratings appear to be steady and/or rising, Ferguson has been making the rounds and starting to get clout outside the nocturnal crowd. One aspect of this occurrence is his release of American on Purpose, his memoir. Unless your Joan Collins, memoirs aren’t released unless there is some actual interest in the subject at hand and since Ferguson’s star is rising, a book seems like the next logical step in making that star shine brighter and higher in the sky.
The book is immensely straightforward. It is bookended by the present day but, like most biographies, starts at childhood and goes right up into the current goings-on. I usually find this approach unbearable in biographies but Ferguson manages to focus more on the people in his life then the events which makes the sometimes standard everyday events seem emotional and interesting. Ferguson has to talk to people every night and engage them and he doesn’;t fail here. Instead of preaching about how a childhood event led him to where he is today he just describes what happened in a simple way and let’s you live in the moment.
This approach helps you get through the by the numbers outline of the book. That said, even if the chronology is by the numbers, Ferguson’s life was/is anything but. Having a career in Hollywood can be downright odd because you, as an actor/director/what have you, are judge by the material you are in/present/etc. By ‘celebrity’ standards, Ferguson’s life is fairly dull: a few movies, a few sitcoms, limited mainstream success or appeal and one guaranteed hit in the bag (his current show). By industry standards he is moderately successful and moderately interesting.
But Hollywood experience and life experience are two different things. Ferguson’s life, from the economically strapped slums of Scotland, to the busy, fast paced and drug fueled streets of New York to said Hollywood is full of larger then life characters, goings-on, cliques, celebrities of the eras, cultural importance and impact and even near death experiences. Oh and evil, attacking ducks too. Ferguson may have a run of the mill acting career but his life has stories that many would envy and others couldn’t dream of.
And most of it isn’t pleasant. Ferguson, while self deprecating throughout, is also brutally honest. Ferguson was an alcoholic, a cocaine addict and a marriage-ender by definition. While always having the ‘heart of gold’, Ferguson was irresponsible, rambunctious and destructive. In many areas of his history he faced death both by starring at the wrong end of a gun (thanks to an angry pimp) or by wishing to jump off a bridge. Graphic (but funny) hallucinations led to weeks of agony and frustration. Ferguson is always willing to make light of his troubles but never endorses them. He makes it clear his life was humorous but wrong. . .and is loving every minute of what he has now.
I think people will buy the book thinking it to be a slightly dark, completely hilarious book. Those people will be immensely disappointed. Ferguson manages to be very funny but the humor comes from his experiences and hardly from his meta-observations of theme during their telling. There is no observational humor here. . .just very direct confirmations of previous facts. This is also not a collection of humorous essays. This is a well told but simple biography that might rub people the wrong way. I was definitely expecting something else but wasn’t disappointed by what I did get in the end.
American on Purpose is a simple read and highly enjoyable if not, dare I say, life affirming. Sometimes when I think I have things bad I turn the page to the moment Ferguson was chased by psychotic hallucination-formed ducks or when he punches a cop in a drunken stupor. If that doesn’t ’sober’ you up then maybe something else in the book will. Either way: read it. (less)