Thursday, August 23

The Glory Days

It's an indictment on Internet society that of the 118 blogs I follow via RSS, only three of them provide regular updates. It's a sign of just how far we've come (fallen?) from the days when content was king, and things like SEO and reach and even readership were afterthoughts to the actual writing process. I'm hardly the model net citizen, but from the start all those 14 years ago I knew I'd never allow ads on this site, nor track who does (or doesn't) read these pages. Instead we now create quicker bites (usually images) and these primarily to be seen, which sounds innocent enough but can also be seen as the root of most of the uglier sides of social media today.

This cynicism and grumpiness comes with age, of course. 14 years is a big chunk of both my life and that of the Internet, and I like to think some kind of prestige comes with that. Of course the real irony is that with this transformation of how the Internet is used, the content that was so easy to create has now become difficult to even start... so any denial that feedback doesn't matter is probably a bit cheeky.

On the other hand, a fair few of those dynamics and relationships have transformed into bigger and better things - so much so that I almost forget where they all started. And so we end with what is probably the most vacuous of life's lessons: things change, sometimes for the worse but often for the better, and so the real value in the world is in the essence of these things and not what they look like.

And if that means it's the blogosphere that gets put on the altar... well maybe that's not that big a price to pay after all.

Film: The Meg Click for more info

A film about a giant shark? How bad could it be? In what is a great example of "you really should have known better": very bad.

But one might be forgiven considering this was also the year of the more enjoyable Rampage and Skyscraper (and I'm pretty sure I'm missing another Dwayne film). But it clearly takes a certain talent to present the preposterous, and The Meg just happens to lack it. Basics like the acting, or the dialogue (oh man, the dialogue) and some really poor direction get in the way of what was a pretty decent plot (in the context of plots about big fish)... so really it's not the giant shark that should be blamed here but, as usual in matters of nature, the men behind it.

One to avoid.

Wednesday, August 15

Film: Ant-Man and the Wasp Click for more info

Ant-Man fulfilled its expectation of being amongst the weakest of the MCU films; apart from an excellent cameo in Civil War there really wasn't ever much potential for the plucky hero to contribute much to the greater mythos (well perhaps not yet anyway). That puts Ant-Man and the Wasp in a strange place, especially as the final film in Phase 3, right after the brilliance that was Infinity War. So it's not actually all that fair really.

Like the first installment, Ant-Man and the Wasp was a decent enough entry in the series, doing its own thing and almost championing the right to stand alone. The problem is that the MCU relies on the cross pollination, the sum being more than its parts - most MCU films would have failed if not for it. But even if we wash past that, the final third act of Wasp was pretty weak in its own right.

So not a terrible film, just one that is perhaps a little... unnecessary. And that's the biggest disappointment really, that it's now become impossible to make a standalone Marvel film that's actually wonderful.

Saturday, August 4

Book: The Three-Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu Click for more info

Despite having heard loads about The Three-Body Problem, this book was not what I was expecting. Firstly, it was a more raw brand of science fiction that relies more on human interaction than technology (even though it does have lots of that, particularly toward the end). Secondly, as a translated book it brought with it a vibe from the original Chinese language, a more to the point and staccato way of presenting plot and story development. In fact my immediate thought was how the book paralleled the Chinese movies I've seen.

That said, after getting past the disorientation caused by the mismatching of expectations I did find The Three-Body Problem to be quite the engaging read. The premise was gripping, the science just about plausible and by the end the plot was poised to pay off handsomely during the next two books. And since both have been translated, they are exactly what I'll be reading next.

Thursday, August 2

Film: Mission: Impossible - Fallout Click for more info

In the run up to the release of the sixth installment in the Mission Impossible film series a few of us spent the last few weeks catching up on the five previous films. This was useful for three reasons: firstly, it got us all on board the hype train; secondly, it allowed me to appreciate the development of the series over the 20+ years (yikes!) it's been around (as well as recounting just how bad the second film was); and thirdly, seeing as how Fallout is a direct continuation to Rogue Nation, it helped us to figure out exactly what was going on here.

Fallout itself was great. All two and a half hours were packed with action, a decent enough plot and brilliant set pieces which flowed into each other so well that that it was difficult to tell when each began. The supporting cast was second only to good ol' Tom doing his thing, and although its easy to criticise the film as being obvious it did it all so well that it didn't matter.

So yes, definitely one to watch... just make sure you have a look at Rogue Nation (heck you could even pick up 1, 3 and 4 too) before you go.