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Bank Holiday Blog Review Blues

The dreariness of a bank holiday Monday in an English summer can have an affect on a person’s mood. It certainly permeated through to my recent blogging attitude or, rather, my consumption of material. Don’t get me wrong; I still enjoy comic books, films, comedy, books, but sometimes the product doesn’t inspire me to write about them.

For example, I’ve read a lot of trade paperbacks from the library recently. I had reserved a lot of specific books (some of which I will review in due course) and this caused me to just pick up a selection of different books that I might not have done. I read Shadowpact: Cursed (collecting issues 4 and 9–13), because it was written by Bill Willingham. Surely a book about the likes of Detective Chimp, Ragman and the Blue Devil written by the man behind Fables would be interesting? Well, no, actually. I found it rather dull, uninspired and generic. It didn’t warrant writing about.

Similarly, I picked up the second volume of Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. (collecting issues 0 and 9–14), mainly because I remembered that the James Robinson Starman had appeared in some issues. I knew it was early Geoff Johns work and, despite not being a fan, I thought it might be interesting. Again, although not completely awful, there was nothing that captured the imagination. I found Courtney Whitmore slightly annoying, the theme of history and legacy that Johns hammered home in JSA to be a little overpowering, and the art from Lee Moder and then Scott Kolins didn’t do anything for me.

Other books went in one eye and out the other: Revelations, by Paul Jenkins and Humberto Ramos, was a piece of hokum about a Vatican conspiracy and murders and the devil, being investigated by a man who seemed like a Warren Ellis stand-in, rather than being written by Jenkins. The only thing I remember was the way the female character (who you know is going to sleep with our protagonist even though he is ugly and miserable and sin, and then die) goes from having a flat chest on a cover to having pneumatic breasts just before they sleep together. The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale got the closest to an emotional reaction in that I was slightly annoyed by it: overly elaborate plotting for the sake of the ‘holiday’ theme (and the definition of holiday being stretched to infinite elasticity) and the general silliness of the story. I read the two volumes of JLA: The Elite and I really don’t understand why this was considered interesting enough to deserve its own miniseries after turning up in a fairly boring story in the JLA in the first place.

It got so I couldn’t even finish some stories. I have the Lobo: Paramilitary Xmas book somewhere in the loft, so thought it might be interesting to see the recent Giffen/Grant/Bisley tales with the Authority in The Authority: Holiday Hell. It hurt my eyes to look at Bisley’s art and the stories themselves sent me to sleep. I also read World War III (because I enjoyed 52 – I will get round to reviewing that) and felt slightly dirty after trying to read that, and slightly embarrassed for the creators involved.

So comic books had proved inconsistent in their entertainment values – I’ve always believed in reading as much as possible in the hope that I can give a reasoned opinion on what I write about – so I turned to film. I had always thought that being a film critic must be a great job, even if you have to watch things like Norbit, because somebody pays you to talk about film. The good critic can talk about the films that are neither very good or very bad with the same professionalism; I don’t think I have this ability.

I have seen a selection of different films on DVD that have not touched me in a manner that caused me to write anything more than these few words. I waited for Jumper to turn up from my online rental DVD list for well over a month; although I loved the visual of the jumping in the film, the story felt very slight, as if there wasn’t enough there to make it (and they didn’t seem to bother to explain things, especially the history and financing of the Paladins). Eastern Promises was an interesting look at the Russian mob in London (even if Naomi Watts didn’t sell the London accent) but the film (which seemed to stem from the idea of doing a film about the slave trade) didn’t seem to have enough to it to see it through – the extra material on the DVD about the mob tattoos and the background seemed more interesting than the film.

I don’t know why I thought Hitman might be worth watching – I seem to have a bizarre fascination with strange adaptations of genre things like computer games – but it proved to be exactly what other people had said about it. I watched National Treasure: The Book of Secrets based solely on The Adam and Joe podcast, where they had a clip of the ridiculous accent and dialogue that Nic Cage used when pretending to be an Englishman and a flower arranger. Those bits were as hilarious as they made out, but the film wasn’t and seeing that the first film wasn’t much and nearly all sequels suffer from diminishing returns, you can work out what it was like. It wasn’t as bad as Rise: Bloodhunter, which I watched because it was about vampires in it and starred Lucy Liu, but I should warn you that there is no redeeming value to it (don’t believe what you might have heard about alleged sexiness between Liu and Carla Cugino, who is going out with the writer/director).

The two films that almost tempted discussion were 3:10 To Yuma and Planet Terror. I thought James Mangold did a great job at remaking the film, and Russell Crowe and Christian Bale were very good in the lead roles (although I would like for Alan Tudyk to make it to the end of more films alive). I would recommend you watch that, especially if you like Westerns. The other was Planet Terror – Robert Rodriguez makes fun films that always show a love and enjoyment of the process itself, and Planet Terror was fun if a little silly, silly special effects, goofy characters. But at least it wasn’t Deathproof, and Rodriguez hasn’t disappeared up his own anus regarding his talent. Not brilliant but worth checking out on DVD, even if (like me) the grindhouse experience passed you by.

And that’s all he wrote. Memories of entertainment is what this blog is all about, even if they might not be worth remembering, or even reading. I’m sure the Bank Holiday Blues will pass – there are always good things to view or read that are worth writing about.

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