Friday 9 December 2016

It'll be terrible to go back to having free time and lots of energy for things I enjoy

If you have been reading for the duration, thank you, and if I do not return to the blog, have a Merry Christmas and a fine New Year - it can only be better than the one we leave behind.

Cairde - go dtí go gcasfar le chéile sinn arís...

Friday 2 December 2016

I'm not cynical, I just know that people are terrible

Been out to watch that there Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, aka "Harry Notter", and like the tail end of the Potter movie series, this wasn't for me.  The world it inhabits makes no sense, and yes, I do know I am talking about a fictional reality wherein literally everything is the result of the actions of a wizard - but even so, when the film tells you that wizards hid themselves from humans by creating living stormclouds of rampaging murderous destruction "that would occasionally get out and cause havok", it's not unreasonable to ask how or why they thought this would aid them in their endeavors.  When one character - supposed to be evil - asks whom their magical apartheid serves, it's actually a pretty reasonable question that's never really answered by the film/franchise's own internal logic, and eventually I just had to accept that whoever this was aimed at, it wasn't me.

Tuesday 8 November 2016

You're what my teacher calls "the crackpot vote"

Today America goes to the polls - tomorrow, America goes to the dogs.  Basically, right now it's like that bit at the end of The Day The Earth Caught Fire with SPOILERS FOR THE DAY THE EARTH CAUGHT FIRE the two different newspaper headlines, one saying "Earth Saved" and the other saying "Earth Doomed" and the slobs in the newspaper office are sitting around waiting to hear which one to send to print, only in the real world, both headlines currently say "America Fucked."
It's not the far right who's to blame, though, nor is it the fault of the far left - it's the fault of the "moderates" who believed that nothing bad would come of creating a mythical center ground of politics defined by monied elites with an apathetic paid-for political commentariat barking along from the sidelines.  Nothing changes, no-one has the power to truly change things, and corporations and bankers get a free pass to foreclose on everyone's homes and businesses - yeah, people were going to just sit back and take that, they were never going to go to the fringe parties and candidates you fucking arseholes.

Monday 31 October 2016

You tell one story where an uncle marries his daughter and suddenly you're the incest guy

I had to take a brief hiatus from the blog to finish up a wee Halloween comic with Lee Robson, which can be found HERE, HERE, or HERE for free - though you can also make a token payment of the amount of your choosing if you so wish.  You won't end up supporting my creative endeavors as I think my downward trajectory has me fast approaching the twin towers of Failure and Regret at terminal velocity, but Lee might enjoy having British pounds in his pocket while they're still worth at least four fifths of  what a Euro is - yes, THOSE Euros.

Saturday 27 August 2016

His wife went into premature labor and blah, blah, blah

Just in case any among the 14 regular weekend visitors who seem to be reading War Cars when I can be bothered to post it are interested, here's some old War Cars line art I found in my travels because yes I am still doing this.
Eagle-eyed readers will spot where the art that appeared in the actual comic was changed from the original linework you see here, presumably because the editors at the time didn't think anyone would really believe an artist from 1983 would have been quite so technically incompetent and it might be an idea to have another pass at it so it appeared more the work of someone from that era.
No, I don't know why I still bother, either, but here we are.

Thursday 25 August 2016

I spent so long looking the other way my neck got tired

Star Command is faintly embarrassing but enjoyable bunkum, which can be viewed on Youtube alongside the similar Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy, a failed tv pilot from Joe Dante of a similar bent,.about spaceship people fighting off a rising menace and the Coming Storm blah de blah de blah - you know the sort of thing, they were like a televisual pox in the late 1990s and somehow of all of them, Star Trek Voyager managed to stick around.
Anyhoo, while there's a ton of this stuff available on Youtube, I wouldn't go so far as to say the people who own the rights to it are "okay" with it being there so much as they've given up trying to track it down and get it deleted, but I suspect there's also an element of their selling their catalogue of old tosh on to streaming content providers like Netflix or Hulu or Chumbawumba or whatever as a big batch and figure they've made what they're like to make out of it and now it's someone else's problem.  Whatever the case may be, I bring it up to both fill a few paragraphs, and because it's interesting to see it alongside fan productions and short movies of often-higher quality, particularly Star Trek Continues and the odd Star Wars effort.
The idea that there's an even playing field between professional and fan-produced content is fascinating to someone like me, seeing as how I am throwing content at the internet like a crazy person and never placing any value on it or even trying to promote it.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

It's Wednesday - don't you have some intercourse to do?

I blame Spartacus for making me think "oh good, John Hannah is in this" when his name pops up in the credits of something or other, but his presence couldn't save the movie Alleycats - at least, I assume he couldn't save it as I could only manage eleven minutes and ten seconds of it before the cast became unbearable to watch.  When they start whooping and driving their bicycles like a bunch of twats around London streets I just thought "no" and turned it off.  To put some perspective on how unlikable they are, I am actually a cyclist myself, but the young actors in this did just too good a job of playing a bunch of cunts.
To be fair, the makers work hard to make you turn the film off, as one of the characters is a smoker, and given the rarity of smoking onscreen these days to reflect the real world, you know this is an aesthetic choice, and that the makers think this will make their character an edgy outlaw from the off rather than simply letting the audience know that the character is smelly and doesn't care much for the concept of personal space.
Basically, Alleycats is a movie for people who hate cyclists and don't want their worldview challenged.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

They're small, they're cheap, and until last week they were safe from bear attacks

I like to think it's my anarchic creative daredevilry that's made me too hot for mainstream comics to touch, but of late I've begun to wonder if perhaps it may have more to do with my lack of talent, bad temper, refusal to take direction or criticism, and my insistence on starting all emails with "greetings, fucker."
Been watching Amazon's season pilots, and while I haven't got around to the one I assumed I'd be in a rush to watch - The Tick, featuring as it does creative input from the property's originator and well-seasoned tv turd-polisher* Ben Edlund - I have managed to watch I Love Dick, which ironically, I did not love in any way, even though it stars Kevin Bacon as Kevin Bacon.  It's one of those shows where horrible people go about their lives being awful and we have to sit and watch it without ever knowing why we're doing so, but presumably in the hope that the hook or the leftfield swerve will be along any minute to turn everything we've seen so far on its head.  No such luck, sadly, this is just a half hour of unlikable people being varying degrees of pretentious.
As with Kevin Bacon, Jean Claude Van Damme plays Jean Claude Van Damme - though in this instance I mean he plays a fictional version of himself rather than simply displays a lack of range - in Jean Claude Van Johnson, and as with his previous foray into playing himself in 2008's JCVD, he plays a pathetic, lonely creature only just managing to live off his dwindling fame and finding no solace in occasionally turning that fame into hollow and meaningless sexual encounters.  Basically, all those years in the US making films where he jumping spin-kicked serial murderers in the head in slow motion never stopped Van Damme being European and he was always going to make something as depressing as this, it was only a matter of when - and that when is now.
Van Damme's yearning for validation forces him to return to making the terrible films which made his name in the hope he can rekindle a relationship with a makeup artist, but there's a catch: his terrible films were only ever an elaborate cover for his true trade as an international murderer-for-hire.  There are lots of references to those terrible films, and one good running gag about how Looper is just a poor copy of Timecop, but the laughs mainly come from seeing JCVD so willing to play himself as a wretched sadsack to the point he doesn't even mug for comic effect, he just lets his hangdog face sink ever lower with each new kick in the balls that life brings.
Admittedly I am its target audience - someone who grew up watching JCVD head-kicking people and now is older but won't have the good grace to die so a young family can take my flat and use it as something other than a repository for dog hair and PS2 games - but I found it highly enjoyable, as much as I can enjoy anything while waiting for death to claim me.

* He's worked on the likes of the dreadful Revolution, as well as the seemingly endless televisual purgatory that is the CW's Supernatural.

Saturday 20 August 2016

I blame the internet and that yoghurt in a tube

Here's one fresh out of my digital binbags - an old comics idea knocking about in my noggin, which I got the idea for donkeys ago when I used to live in South Wembley, as near the sprawling estate where I lived was a huge but rarely-used jumble of criss-crossing train tracks that led underground via several huge brick tunnel arches, and the subject of lost tunnels and abandoned stations on the underground eventually came up in conversation with someone or other and the two clicked together years later while I was playing Metro 2033 on the PS3.

Media seems choked with "secret civilization under London" stories, though, and I don't think I'd have offered much to the genre with Underground beyond what I thought was an amusing inversion of the trope: instead of London having a hidden secret world of terror and wonder beneath its streets, the world of terror and wonder was London itself and the boringly normal world was the one that existed deep beneath the Thames Valley in the subterranean towns and villages built by descendants of the population of a government bunker who had survived the nuclear war that took place in the 1980s (clearly I was subconsciously influenced by War Cars) and eventually expanded from their fallout shelter to settle in caves and caverns far beneath the ruins of the city.  Best not think too hard about The Science on this one, I am thinking.

The characters would travel a mundane-looking underworld of brick walls, collapsed tunnels and flooded sewers in a quest for knowledge, so when I say I wasn't offering anything new I really mean it, with even the mutants - when they eventually appeared - just being humans in bandages and hazmat suits, and the main antagonists being The Vicars - yep, just dudes dressed in black.

Unhelpfully, I have lost all but these few sketches and the original proof of concept pages below, so don't judge the abilities of contemporary me by the on-the-nose dialogue, rough art, and pages occasionally crammed with text.  I shelved it when I had to do something for someone else, then never came back to it as I had other projects on the go by then, but I'm pretty sure the only reason I drew the art pages originally was to try and use Manga Studio's crosshatching brushes, but it wasn't a terribly successful attempt, as I just couldn't figure out a way to get them to do what I wanted.

Thursday 18 August 2016

If I didn't have my kickboxing class as an outlet, the watercolours I do in my painting class would be REALLY dark

ZOMFG!  New Power Pack story in Marvel's Choosing Sides #4 is good news on its own, but it's also written by Bad Machinery's John Allison, who's one of those rare modern writers who combines invention with distinctive character voices, the former being easy to come by in these days of an industry on an endless quest for shocks and/or the next big hook, but the latter being a lost art to the point I have - as you can see above and for the last month and change here on the blog - given up entirely on the idea of the spoken word in any comics what I does.  Let the reader's imagination do some of the lifting, that's my philosophy - they'll thank you for it.
HAHA no they won't what am I saying?
Anyway, the Power Pack strip is slight by its nature, being the characters are supposed to comment on the whole Civil War 2 thing without making an impact on it in any way seeing as they're starring in an anthology title full of inessential filler, but the in-universe rationale is that they have chosen to sit the whole thing out like most sensible people and leave it all to the hopeless hardcore comics nerds - erm, I mean, to the superheroes who have been in successful movies lately.  I don't even know what Civil War 2 is actually about and I am oddly proud of this, but I'm probably being unfair on it considering DC's crossovers are now basically fanfiction rehashing decades-old Alan Moore stories and characters, so it's off to Wikipedia I go for a quick catch-up...

Okay, in a "you couldn't make it up" twist, it seems Civil War 2 is a rehash of Alan Moore's Judgment Day crossover he wrote for Image in the mid-90s.  Em... only it's not a complete copy, as Civil War 2 has a mutant who sees the future instead of the metatextual magic book McGuffin used by Moore.  I have now learned to keep my snark to myself and shall continue with my thoughts on Choosing Sides #4 - or rather the Power Pack bits of it.  Did I mention I like Power Pack?
The story is a bit slight, but it has three things I like very much going for it:
1 - the characters have kept their noses out of Civil War 2 and only stick their noses in enough to speak briefly about events among themselves out of a lingering sense of obligation to the superhero world they once knew and immersed themselves within - there's your metatext right there, buddy.
2 - a character opines "why choose sides at all?  I change my mind all the time." and is commended for their sensible thinking and then everyone goes about their day.  This common sense and civility is where Allison's metatextual journey clearly ends, because this is not how people discuss superhero crossovers.  Where are the death threats?
3 - it doesn't star Alex Power, who is my least favorite member of Power Pack.  Not because he is a terrible character - although don't get me wrong, he is pretty dreadful - but because he is the one I find least interesting.  There was a moment in Matt Fraction's Fantastic Four/FF runs where Doctor Doom drags Alex around by his hair and makes him cry like a baby and it's the closest the character has come to being entertaining since 1988, but apart from that he is utterly dull.

Anyway, do check it out if you can, as Allison is worth watching in the same way Al Ewing was: an overnight sensation from nowhere who's actually been toiling in obscurity for more than a decade.

Friday 1 July 2016

We're no longer poor and in debt - now we're just poor, which as you know is the new middle class

Brexit - as we continue to insist on calling it because it takes up fewer characters in a Tweet than the term "turning into 1930s Germany" - continues apace, and I won't lie, I am kind of in a hurry to get paid for that last job I did so I can get the money out of the bank and have some folding cash laying around Just In Case there's ever anything to those "LOL we livin in Mad Max Times by next year" jokes I was making.

There was a bonkers economics show I was watching online for some reason, and part of the reason it was bonkers was because Alec Baldwin - who is to the world of acting what George Galloway is to the world of politics - was one of the presenters/guests, but hey, Russell brand - who is either a cautionary tale or one of the first Earth Presidents (possibly he is both) by the time you read this, people of the future - made a perfectly good documentary about the Western postwar economics bubble created by a chance convergence of inflated property values and the revival of a failed economics model from the 1800s so why the fuck not Alec Baldwin in an economics panel discussion?  Why the fuck not Alec Baldwin in everything?
Anyway, Alec - or as he's known to his kids, "Daddy, please stop calling at this time of the morning and saying these terrible things about mom" - opined about how the political chancers he encountered on his travels from one free meal to another were laughing about how people would have to grow their own food within the next 15 years, and I thought "bonkers."
But here we are.

Next week, I will be getting back to normal.  The country may be going to buggery, but I'll be sorting myself out, and none of this navel-gazing despair that's gripped the land for the last week.  Well, not unless I find it amusing to keep making Thunderdome jokes, but it'll be a facade, I assure you.

Tuesday 28 June 2016

When a man insults the glory of God it's time to let your fists do the talking

The story was a mix of things as I tried to cram different threads and themes into the different characters, but the core concept of "Your Friends and Neighbors" when I was posting it on the blog was that of a kid who lived in a town where the world had come to his door thanks to the kind of wonderful and beautiful multiculturalism that more than half the population of this country just pissed up a wall, and he encounters race and religious differences on the path to character growth and being less of an elitist jerk about his first world problems.
I developed RSI halfway through posting the first chapter and once I started to recover, the strip fell by the wayside in favor of things I had pending - such as the art for a graphic novel - but just for shits and giggles, here's chapter 1 of "The Man By The River" in its entirety, including the pages I never got to put on the blog - and yes before you ask I can draw and letter much better these days.
It's all very crude as I was drawing in Photoshop at that time (I now use Manga Studio), didn't know my way around a page, and the writing risks making me look like the kind of massively sexist and racist snob I thought I was parodying, but there's a special prize* if you can spot the exact page where my crippling RSI kicked in and I could barely hold a pen and draw any more - if you say "page 1" the special prize is a punch in the balls.

* there is no prize.

Monday 27 June 2016

The sooner things go back to the way they were, the sooner we can make change happen

You know, I was wondering if this blog is stored on a server in Europe somewhere or on the UK mainland, as I would like to think that the people of the future would get to read this horseshit and see that shortly before Britain went utterly mad and had to be sank into the sea to prevent the infection spreading and dooming the rest of the world - 28 Days Later and its "epidemic of hate" was apparently a documentary - Britain had people like you who wasted their time on blogs about comics and bad television - well, not exactly like you, as if you are reading this in the future you won't really know what comics are, or television, probably - or Britain, come to that.
I am not really sure what to say about Britain to future generations.  I make jokes about how catastrophe will undoubtedly follow this whole Brexit thing and we'll be clubbing each other to death in the Thunderdome for Aunty's amusement by this time next year and thanking our lucky stars we got this instead of the fate of the other Pig Killers, but I don't really mean that, it's just a humorous scenario I have postulated in the hope of amusing those reading my words.  Plus Tina Turner is retired now and lives in America, and she'd have to be mental to come here now we're all crazy racists who attack brown people on sight, which I wished was also a humorous scenario I have postulated in the hope of amusing those reading my words but is actually how we all roll now.  We are a racist nation and we make our important political decisions based on the lies of fuckers.  There's your archaeological insight right there, future people.  FUCKERS.
We were a nation of idiots and we got what was coming to us.  It might not be an actual apocalypse, but whatever it is, we worked for it.

Friday 24 June 2016

I say this with nothing but love but you are dead to me

Conservative voters, you have destroyed this country.
We’re about to birth the first generation of babies that will be regularly woken by the nocturnal screams of their parents, and you did this with your affordable four-wheel drives, your Coldplay albums, your canvas trousers, your NutriBullet, your rape pornography, your James Corden, your Sky Atlantic, your mistress, your numb smile, your Diazepam, your wanking glove, your weight gain, your constant Googling "does this dream make me gay?", your fear of buttons, your Amazon Prime, your unrealistic goals, your friend with terrible spinal injuries, your secret jealousy of all the attention he gets, your constant fear of cancer, your dream of swimming with a dolphin who will at best feel complete indifference towards you, your tutting at the news, your Gucci belt, the books you have pretended to read, your love of cock, your cock of love, your daughter’s wedding, your first bike, your suicide.

Thursday 23 June 2016

Why can't you just be like a normal person and hate?

We've traveled a long road together, Star Trek, but I think it's time we went our separate ways.
It was a good run, and I really enjoyed paying to see your increasingly dumber and shitty films, but when you decide that what can best be described as "some tools on the internet mucking about" is the greatest threat to your intellectual property rather than the scripts for the last two Star Trek movies that you totally signed off on, it's probably time for me to move onto something else, preferably something which I can pretend hasn't been tarnished by a corporate jackboot that doesn't know or care about the difference between a copyright sniper and free advertising for their product.

So basically I'm going to be a Planet of the Apes fan now.  Plenty of movies to get my teeth into with a pedigree going all the way back to the late 1960s, a tv show, a really dreadful cartoon, and comics which I will charitably refer to as "variable in quality".

Monday 20 June 2016

You only really hit bottom when you stop digging

Oh go on, then, Blogger, have another of my increasingly-infrequent and rambling posts while I hit a quiet spot in The Paying Work.
Not up to much these days, just the odd freelance thing good for occasional beer money injections to my bank account and not much else.  I had knocked the comics thing on the head because it wasn't going anywhere, and the microsecond I made the decision, I ended up getting hired to draw comics not for a publisher but for learning websites.  My work is behind paywalls so basically you have to take my word for it, but I'll be sure to link to anything that's free to view if and when it appears somewhere online.
I did still manage to fall into doing some small press fan work, including my second attempt at Strontium Dog (for Dogbreath), which was basically just me sketching the action figure they brought out that one time, and hey, while I've got you waking from that cider-induced slumber, clearly terrible attempt at Ron Perlman's likeness, what was your opinion of my attempt at a Hellboy strip?

Well I thought I did okay.  Everyone's a critic.

Friday 13 May 2016

I love you but I'm embarrassed by the things you believe, do and say

I don't know when my tv viewing became trapped in the 1970s and 1980s, but here I am just wrapping up on watching Street Hawk (mostly terrible) and diving into Logan's Run: The Series (completely terrible) and almost immediately getting sidetracked hunting down episodes of Bigfoot and Wildboy, a show I cannot believe I didn't know existed: an orphan is raised by Bigfoot and they fight forest crime together!  Created by Ken Ruby and Joe Spears, who made a ton of awesome cartoons you never really saw if all you owned was an analogue tv in the 1980s, but this one's a live-action effort that's a bit Jungle Book, a bit Incredible Hulk, and a bit Grizzly Adams.  God bless you, Internets - and all who sail upon you!

Tuesday 10 May 2016

Stand firm for what you believe in until and unless logic and experience prove you wrong

I won't lie, I am currently watching the Blue Thunder spin-off tv series, and really, where can I possibly go from that statement - "it was not as good as I had expected"?
It stars Dana Carvey, you guys.  On purpose.
Sometimes I wonder what people make of the blog, apart from perhaps that I live in some sort of pop-cultural third world of old shit films and old shit tv shows and - latterly - old sci-fi novels that are actually quite good, occasionally popping in to the blog to screen grab pics of whatever random thing I'm doodling at that day and tell you you all how great that episode of Street Hawk is where he does the turbo hyper jump to spin 360 degrees in mid-air because of course I'm watching Street hawk, too - and I am 70 percent certain I am not imagining the sexual undercurrent of the voice-over man saying "to RRRRRIIIIIDE Street Hawk!"  I don't imagine today's post will do much to shake the impression I've worked hard to give.

Monday 9 May 2016

The monkey is unpredictable - you never know when he's going to demand intercourse

For some reason I decided to watch the Dirty Harry series and it was largely a good decision as some of them are good action films - especially Magnum Force's inventive chases - though my main takeaway was the fantastic Lalo Schifrin scores, even if they were a diminishing returns kind of thing as synth music became more permissible between 1972 and 1988 and the snazzy, jazzy, dirty guitar riffs phased out to be replaced with an array of other contemporary sounds.
Also decided to start watching Rizzoli & Isles, which was a terrible decision.  Stupid, hateful, and often sadistic, it's the kind of show a 13 year-old would create if they found themselves in a writer's room by accident and decided to roll with it like that Guy who wandered into the wrong interview on the BBC that time, only that was fun and didn't leave you hating the world and yourself in that order like Rizzoli & Isles does.  The show also describes the theory that criminal behavior is genetic as "scientific", so there's that, too.

Wednesday 4 May 2016

God doesn't have children - he's a bachelor, and very angry

I notice on The Twitter that people like to sarcastically say May 4th is "Star Trek Day", dredging up the old warhorse that posits that Star Trek and Star Wars are interchangeable rather than opposite ends of the sci-fi spectrum, but let's put this one to bed right now: Star Wars is for nerds, while Star Trek is for morons.
Why yes, I am going to watch some Star Trek tonight to mark the occasion.  So much good stuff to choose from, yet I am plumping for Fairest of them All, a part of the impressive Star Trek Continues fan-made series that tells the story of the power struggle to control the Evil Enterprise that takes place between Evil Spock and Evil Kirk after the events of the original series episode Mirror Mirror.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

I have an Irish imagination which makes the unknown and the untried more terrible than they are

I know that on the internet, there's a rush to be the first to crap all over something - the modern equivalent of being the first to discover a band or writer, I would imagine - but I think I can be reasonably certain I am quite late to the party when it comes to having concerns about the general attitude towards non-whites in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World, though if you are by some miracle even later to arrive at this one than myself, let me just say it starts with a "gigantic negro" (1) whose name is Zambo, and it tends to go downhill from there.  Possibly it all redeems itself somehow by the end of the book, but I'm at the bit with the genocide now and so far not so much.
I don't think it's crazy old timey racism, though, so much as "different times" having different sensitivities, as there's some stuff in the rest of the book - which is in the public domain and available to download for free - that hints at a broader respect of human dignity one might not assume to be universal at the time of writing.
I probably should wait until I actually finish these things before offering my opinion on them, really - but hey, I have actually started it before formulating an opinion, so I'm already way ahead of everyone who's seen that new Ghostbusters trailer.

(1) No-one can tell me there isn't a Garth Ennis story somewhere which uses this term as a racial slur.

Friday 15 April 2016

I don't care about your vampire politics!

Just in case future historians perusing the blog archives - presumably trying to understand the terrible things I did to all those people - wonder why I suddenly started giving my impressions of books without pictures in them, I am attempting to read what are considered the 100 best sci-fi books of all time, but such a list is obviously a malleable and fluid thing, prone to late entries from fly-by-night flavors of the week, so I typed "100 greatest science fiction novels" into Google and picked a list from a random website - because there are a lot of top 100 lists and they don't all agree - and pasted it into a text file on my desktop and never looked back.
Although I probably should have looked back after reading the dreadfully dull Starship Troopers, though a rewatch of the film adaptation convinced me that science fiction was worth giving another go and I got stuck into the Foundation Trilogy and now A Princess of Mars, which is the tale of the enigmatic John Carter, whose first person account of his interplanetary travels never gets tired of telling you how awesomely manly he is - though to be fair he goes on to recount how he beat up the planet Mars, so I can sort of understand why the man would have a high opinion of himself.  He's a bit of an imperialist scumbag, too, smiting his way through the natives like a walking smallpox until he finds himself a bit of posh Martian tottie to lay some eggs with - but his tale is an enjoyable romp with some good world-building along the way, even if the politics of the text don't bear up to modern scrutiny.

Should you be wondering, the full list is as follows, with books I have managed to read so far being bolded - yeah I know there's only 12 of them so far, but I am reasonably sure I have actually read one or two of the others:

Frank Herbert - Dune
Orson Scott Card - Ender's Game
Isaac Asimov - The Foundation Trilogy
Douglas Adams - Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Robert A Heinlein - Stranger in a Strange Land
George Orwell - 1984
Ray Bradbury - Fahrenheit 451
Arthur C Clarke - 2001: A Space Odyssey
Philip K Dick - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
William Gibson - Neuromancer
Isaac Asimov - I, Robot
Robert A Heinlein - Starship Troopers
Larry Niven - Ringworld
Arthur C Clarke - Rendezvous With Rama
Dan Simmons - Hyperion
Joe Haldeman - The Forever War
Aldous Huxley - Brave New World
H G Wells - The Time Machine
Arthur C Clarke - Childhood's End
Robert A Heinlein - The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
H G Wells - The War of the Worlds
Ray Bradbury - The Martian Chronicles 
Kurt Vonnegut - Slaughterhouse Five
Ursula K Le Guin - The Left Hand of Darkness
Neal Stephenson - Snow Crash
Niven & Pournelle - The Mote in God's Eye
Orson Scott Card - Ender's Shadow
Orson Scott Card - Speaker for the Dead
Michael Crichton - Jurassic Park
Alfred Bester - The Stars My Destination
Philip K Dick - The Man in the High Castle   
Isaac Asimov - The Caves of Steel   
Frederik Pohl - Gateway   
Roger Zelazny - Lord of Light   
Stanislaw Lem - Solaris   
Jules Verne - 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea   
Michael Crichton - The Andromeda Strain   
Kurt Vonnegut - Cat's Cradle   
Philip K Dick - Ubik   
Carl Sagan - Contact   
Madeleine L'Engle - A Wrinkle In Time   
Isaac Asimov - The Gods Themselves   
John Wyndham - The Day of the Triffids   
Vernor Vinge - A Fire Upon the Deep 
Walter M Miller - A Canticle for Leibowitz   
Kim Stanley Robinson - Red Mars 
Anthony Burgess - A Clockwork Orange   
Robert A Heinlein - Time Enough For Love   
Ursula K Le Guin - The Dispossessed   
Isaac Asimov - The End of Eternity   
Mary Shelley - Frankenstein   
Daniel Keyes - Flowers for Algernon   
L Ron Hubbard - Battlefield Earth   
Jules Verne - Journey to the Center of the Earth   
Philip Jose Farmer - To Your Scattered Bodies Go   
Peter F Hamilton - The Reality Dysfunction 
Neal Stephenson - The Diamond Age   
Philip K Dick - A Scanner Darkly   
David Brin - Startide Rising
Kurt Vonnegut - The Sirens of Titan   
Margaret Atwood - The Handmaid's Tale
Greg Bear - Eon
Iain M Banks - Use of Weapons 
John Scalzi - Old Man's War 
Arthur C Clarke - The City and the Stars   
Michael Crichton - Sphere
Alfred Bester - The Demolished Man
Robert A Heinlein - The Door Into Summer
Alastair Reynolds - Revelation Space
Harry Harrison - The Stainless Steel Rat
Iain M Banks - Player of Games
Edgar Rice Burroughs - A Princess of Mars
Connie Willis - Doomsday Book
Cormac McCarthy - The Road
Robert A Heinlein - Citizen of the Galaxy
Gene Wolfe - The Fifth Head of Cerberus
C S Lewis - Out of the Silent Planet
Dan Simmons - Ilium
Philip K Dick - The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch
Richard Morgan - Altered Carbon
John Wyndham - The Chrysalids
Niven & Pournelle - Lucifer's Hammer   
Robert A Heinlein - Have Space-Suit - Will Travel   
Edwin A Abbott - Flatland   
Clifford Simak - Way Station   
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games   
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky - Roadside Picnic   
Ursula K Le Guin - The Lathe of Heaven   
John Brunner - Stand on Zanzibar    
Richard Matheson - I Am Legend    
Stanislaw Lem - The Cyberiad    
Neal Stephenson - Anathem    
Clifford Simak - City   
Julian May - The Many-Colored Land
Robert Louis Stevenson - Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde   
Philip K Dick - VALIS    
Orson Scott Card - Xenocide 
David Brin - The Postman   
Theodore Sturgeon - More Than Human   
Arthur Conan Doyle - The Lost World

Wednesday 13 April 2016

By the time I've prayed and taken all my medication the day is almost over

Some nerds are really angry at Batman vs Superman, but I'm not sure why - mind you, I liked Iron Man 2 and Thor 2: Through the Portal of Time, so possibly I am not a great judge of the quality of anything.  Maybe Batman vs Superman is indeed a cinematic atrocity for which all the cast and crew should be put on a plane and then that plane be 911ed into a prison full of child molesters as has been suggested by the Guardian's online review in a shocking but in retrospect probably inevitable decline in their usual standards, but for me, I thought BvS was a middling affair punctuated by some nice visuals but ultimately scuppered by a mechanical coldness to an unfocused story, and a lack of likable characters underscored by the only "civilians" in the film being fickle rabble.
These are my thoughts, such as they are, and may make little sense without a knowledge of the plot of the film, which can be found HERE on Wikipedia.

The opening of BvS sees a recreation of the ending of Man Of Steel, an event known in-universe as "OMG Metropolis 911", and Bruce Wayne is seen running headlong into the dust cloud rolling down the street that you will likely remember from footage of 911 - don't worry, no-one thinks this 911 reference stuff is tasteless anymore, they're putting it in Superman films and everything.  Bruce runs straight into 911 and starts helping the victims of 911, including a security guard who will later blow himself up for some reason in a suicide bombing like the terrorists of 911 did, but again, don't worry, none of this is tasteless anymore. There's a bit where Bruce Wayne saves a little girl wandering around 911 - as little girls are wont to do - and then hugs the little girl and watches the aliens falling to Earth in destructive fireballs, and the stabbing music sounds just like Jeff "no relation" Wayne's War Of The Worlds theme, which I thought was actually pretty neat.

When Batman beats up a slave trafficker, he momentarily turns into the Alien to run around some walls while being shot at by a cop - I also thought this was pretty neat.  Some people complain that this version of Batman isn't one they recognise, but I don't think this is a fair criticism of BvS because this is (/does nerd maths) the fifth distinct version of Batman to hit movie screens (or the sixth/seventh if you count the change of actors in the 1990s franchise as separate continuities) so Snyder and his small army of writers can hardly be blamed for going a different route in order to differentiate themselves.

I like Ben Affleck's Bruce Wayne and I like his Batman - particularly as it doesn't look like his cowl is trying to eat Batman's tiny face like what was the case with the Nolan Batflicks - but I am not sure what to say about Jezza Irons' Alfred Pennyworth because the actor in real life reckons people of the same sex shouldn't be allowed to marry because that would be like a man marrying his own son to avoid paying taxes, and whatever else you think of Batman vs Superman, I think that we should all agree going forward that this is the worst thing about it and nothing else.  NOTHING ELSE.

I spotted an Asian in the film so it's time for a racist rant WAIT COME BACK - I mean only to comment upon the surge of late in seeing Chinese actors in American films, as once you know that China is a ludicrously big market for Hollywood movies, it's hard not to see where Chinese actors are shoehorned with varying degrees of success into tiny roles in films like Age Of Ultron, Iron Man 3 and Terminator: Genesys in a bit of reverse-racism that I certainly understand as a business concept, but cannot comprehend how it isn't just regular racism, on account of
(1) you're singling out someone on the basis of their ethnicity.  Kind of like those television producers who announced that they were open to more diversity in their casting of Nancy Drew (commendable) by saying they were excluding white actresses from the casting process (racism), and
(2) if Hollywood gave two fucks about diversity it would have done something about it by now.
Anyway, I'm noticing a lot more Chinese people in films now so clearly I can't throw stones at the racism of others.

Metropolis has its own 911 memorial called "Heroes Park", and this is a concept I have a problem with in the context of the fictional world that has been created, mainly because it hasn't adequately been explained why people think of Superman as heroic, or even why they see him as in any way distinct from the other aliens who did Metropolis 911 - this is a guy, after all, who leveled a city and killed thousands, and then topped it off with a cold-blooded murder in front of a terrified family - so why they would make a multi-story statue of him and then locate it right next to the memorial to the thousands of people he killed is something that needs a little clarification.  I suppose it's most probable that everyone is just so terrified of Superman that they've built this mighty idol to appease the angry city-murdering god so that he doesn't do something worse next time.

Perry White is terrible at writing headlines going by his dialogue in this, but I am going to go further and say that he is also terrible at his job period.  In Man of Steel, Lois Lane comes to him with a story about an invincible alien demigod who walks among men and indulges in terrifying acts of destructive vandalism upon arbitrary targets of opportunity and Perry's response is that Lois should bring him "some real news", while in this very film, Clark Kent approaches White with a story about police corruption, a vigilante that's a bit like the Alien who brutally brands criminals in order to expedite their deaths in prison, and furthermore it's already on the tv news and people are interested in it, yet Perry White once again doesn't think it's news.  This guy is the reason newspapers are a dying medium.  Although you could try a different reading: in Man of Steel, the targets of Superman's wrath were working class people (whom he stole clothes from, put out of their jobs, destroyed their livelihoods, etc), while Batman pursues criminals who prey on the working classes - Clark Kent even calls Perry White out on it, asking "what - poor people don't buy newspapers?"  White's reply is "people don't buy newspapers" and when those who edit them have an attitude like that is it any wonder?
White is completely terrible at his job, and I get the idea that Zack Snyder's inspiration for him came from ex-Sun editor and walking sack of excrement in human form Kelvin McKenzie, because you can't tell me that someone this terrible at their job  didn't run headlines after the events of Man Of Steel blaming the destruction of Metropolis on its own citizens.  Yes 911 and now a Hillsborough joke God help me I'm a monster.

Bruce Wayne meets Wonder Woman at a party, and he seems very hostile to this attractive and flirtatious woman.  I made a joke that it's probably because Ben Affleck knows that Batman is traditionally portrayed as gay, but this spurious and borderline homophobic reading is sadly quite plausible once you start asking yourself why Zack Snyder thought "Jeremy Irons is the perfect guy to play Alfred in this movie."  Alfred goes beyond the traditional portrayal of the character as a weary snark and is openly hostile towards Bruce and the things he does, no matter how noble in intent or contextually justified, often harping on about how there will never be another generation of Wayne children, how Bruce should meet a nice girl - Bruce even tentatively offers an explanation as to what his legacy might be because kids - for some reason - will never be it.
Anyway, hilarious as that "Batmin is teh ghey" thread is to pull upon, Bruce is hostile towards Wonder Woman and the hostility doesn't feel earned in the context of the story, so it's a bit odd.  I have a theory, though: Wonder Woman's part was originally written for Lois Lane.  She investigates Lex Luthor, Batman doesn't like her on their first meeting (because she's Superman's cheerleader and rumored love interest), her appearance coincides with that of Clark Kent at the party Lex is hosting, Lois has sod-all else to do in the film, and Wonder Woman barely appears in it apart from this one scene.
An alternate theory is that Batman is not an Islamophobe and so he is simply outraged by Gal Gadot's real-life comments supporting the bombing of Gaza, though this theory is blown out of the water when Batman personally bombs the living fuck out of a dockyard like his Batplane was Israel and that dockyard was a children's hospital.

I like the bit where Clark Kent confronts Bruce Wayne and they trade barbs, mainly because it highlights what a simpleton Clark Kent is, as he has by this point figured out that Bruce Wayne is Batman - by accidentally overhearing his communications with Alfred with his super-hearing - and starts out by asking him about recent Batman sightings without ever realising - because these comments are written for the audience rather than for the characters in the scene - that these are only barbs if Bruce is aware that Clark is actually Superman, and so he just looks like a pretty rubbish journalist for asking random people about his story, or at the very least he looks like that guy who says things like "oh you're from New York?  Then you must know my buddy--"  Bruce doesn't know that Kent has figured out who he is, so he responds in kind with dismissive jibes about how people from Gotham know all about "clowns in costumes" so it's supposed to be this cute meeting of two alter-egos but all it does is demolish Superman, as Bruce is putting on a drunken playboy act and Kent knows it but still comes out looking like an idiot.

All of Batman's legwork turns out to be his trying to find someone called The White Portuguese, except it turns out to be the name of a boat.  Don't they have Google in this world?  I have an in-universe explanation: Lexcorp is a interwebz company and they scrubbed all mention of the boat from the interweb to keep it hidden.  Or something.  See, movie writers?  It's that easy to think of things with your brain.

There's a bit where a senator lady said Lex couldn't import Kryptonite into the US for some reason, but here it is being imported anyway - on the White Portuguese boat Batman has been pursuing since long before the Kryptonite plot strand was even introduced.  Batman pursues Lex's cronies until Superman shows up and makes the Batmobile crash, then flies off after telling Batman they can never be friends.  Clark brought up the fact that Batman only pursues the worst kinds of criminal with Perry White earlier in the film, and must surely have seen or heard the explosions and military-grade machine gun fire on the docks, yet he confronts Batman by letting the people he's pursuing escape.  At the very least, they're domestic terrorists, yet Superman lets them get away scot free.

Capitol Hill is suicide-bombed by the 911 security guard from the 911 bit at the start of the film - or possibly it was Lex Luthor rigging the man's wheelchair in order to frame him as a 911 bomber.  A senator lady twigs that she is about to be 911ed when she sees a jar of Lex Luthor's urine on her desk.  No really.
Americans don't like 911 - except in their superhero movies when it's being punched by someone in a fetish outfit - so they turn against Superman.  Why they didn't turn against him when he did that other 911 in the last film is - again - not explored.

Lois finds Superman stalking around the outside of her apartment, recreating the single creepiest part of Superman Returns (if you ignore the fact - and you should - that Superman super-roofied Lois at some point before the film began so she's brought up her child believing him to be the product of date-rape).  Superman mopingly opines "all this time I've been living my life as my father saw it - righting wrongs for a ghost" er... no, that's the exact opposite of what his dad taught him.  This character arc for Superman is confusing because when Superman talks about his dad teaching him to do good things and be an aspirational figure, he can only mean the dad from Krypton played by Gladiator, but when he actually sees his dad as a ghost later in the film, it's the dad played by Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves, who was always telling him that people were fearful, not to be trusted, and that he had to hide from them and even let them die to save himself if need be.

Batman decrypts the information he stole from Lex Luthor earlier in the movie and finds pictures of Wonder Woman in 1918 and footage of various superhumans, which strikes me as the kind of thing Batman would already be aware of in some fashion since his entire deal is that he's fearful of superhuman potential. Lex has also apparently taken the time to design logos and individual branding for each superhuman for some reason.

Superman's ghost dad - as an actual ghost now - told him he believed there was good in the world.  This - again - is somewhat at odds with what we saw in Man of Steel.

Lex blackmails Superman by holding his mum hostage, saying that if Superman kills Lex or flies away, his mum will be killed, and it never occurs to Superman to say "I'll just bring her back to life with my spaceship's resurrection machine when I get done shooting all your limbs off with my laser vision."

Also: Superman's spaceship has a resurrection machine.

"Lois... I have to go to Gotham to convince him to help me... or he has to die."  For some reason, this made me laugh.  I don't know why.

Lois demands a chopper to Gotham and Perry barks "A chopper?  We can barely afford a bicycle!"  She looks him in the eye and reassures him that she isn't doing it for a story so he gives her a chopper.  Seriously, this is what happens - he lets her use the helicopter only after she assures him she will not be using it for journalism.  This man is terrible at his job.

Gotham can be seen from Metropolis, or at the very least you can see a torch shone into the Gotham sky from a rooftop in Metropolis.

Superman and Batman do a big fight and

There's lots of CGI for Superman's powers, then they punch each other in the head for a bit, then Batman realises that Superman's mum has the same name as Batman's mum and they bond over this piece of comicbook trivia to the point that they are totally bros now.
No really, ask anyone who's seen the film already, this is absolutely how this pans out.

One thing that I find a bit off is that Superman doesn't seem to need much convincing to murder Batman.  He goes to meet up with him and Batman shoots him with guns - which is a thing Batman does now - and Superman shrugs it off like he usually does with bullets, and then it's murdering time.

Batman's warehouse fight makes it clear that the director has been playing the Arkham games A LOT, and has seen Robocop.

It is really obvious that the CGI Hulk - sorry - the CGI Doomsday's animators - oh yeah, because Zod is Doomsday now - didn't give him a CGI penis.  Perhaps in the R-rated blu ray they'll fix that.  Yes there's an R-rated Superman movie coming out - such a wonderful time we live in!
Doomsday also turns into the Destroyer from the end of the first Thor movie, then Wonder Woman shows up because why not?  She was in the trailer, so there's probably a law that says they have to have her in the actual film because of advertising rules or something.  Wonder Woman's theme is terrible and I hate it.  It sounds like the BGM from a PS1 room-clearing dungeon crawler dear God what do these words even mean?

For some reason Doomsday looks like Boss Nass in some shots.  Just saying.
This fight with Doomsday is unconvincing not just because of the CGI, but because Doomsday is Zod, and Zod is the biggest wimp in the galaxy, most notably being beaten up in the opening scenes of Man of Steel by Krypton's equivalent of a nerdy scientist, and ending that same film being broken in two by a farmer who had literally never been in a single fight in all his life.  What Batman should do in this fight is kneel down on all fours behind Doomsday when Doomsday is looking at something else, and then Wonder Woman can push Doomsday and he'll fall backwards and probably break his neck.

Superman is shooting lasers from his eyes at Doomsday and going ARRRRRRRRGHHHH which I don't understand because isn't the process of shooting lasers just him looking really hard at something?  UGH just don't get me started on laser eyes in these fucking movies.

There's some thing with Lois and a Kryptonite spear going on.  At some point I lost track of what was happening and I have no idea if the following makes any sense, so I apologise: Lois finds a Kryptonite spear Batman was going to use to kill Superman but he changed his mind and threw the spear away.  Lois went looking for it and then threw it away again, but then she came back and decided to get it back from the water where she threw it for some reason, only it had moved for some reason, so she swims around a bit and then a building collapses where she's swimming but she's not squashed flat because concrete floats, but she does nearly drown until Superman saves her, and then Superman jumps into the same drowning pond to retrieve the Kryptonite spear - without at any moment considering there may be a Basic Flaw in this Plan - and then Lois has to save him from drowning because The Basic Flaw In That Plan.  Maybe there's some attempt to make this a sort of Arthurian analogy with the magic weapon from the lady in the lake and that, and just to really hammer it home there's a bit where Superman and Doomsday have run each other through and Superman pulls himself along the weapon he's impaled upon in order to push his own weapon deeper into his enemy, which was at the end of that cinematic classic Star Trek Nemesi - sorry, Excalibur, and which of course makes Superman a murderer for two films in a row now.

Wonder Woman's magic sword can chop pieces off Doomsday, which I am reasonably sure makes the Kryptonite spear thing redundant as a story device.  Why don't they just cut off his head and run away with it?

Okay, I'm just going to say this: why is Wonder Woman even in this film?  People keep saying OMG WONDER WOMAN IS AWESOME I CAN'T WAIT FOR HER MOVIE but she has something like four or five minutes of screen time in a two and a half hour film and in all that time she does not prove useful in any way, or achieve any of the things she set out to do.

Lex Luthor is in jail now - I literally blinked and missed where he got caught by the popo.  They shave his head, which I am pretty sure they don't actually do in prisons, but you probably want it done if you're going away for a spell as they do bad things in prison to dudes with long hair.  Yes a rape joke now - I think I have a problem.

Superman gets Spock's funeral song played on the bagpipes during the state funeral he receives from the people who literally hated him about twenty minutes ago.  Presumably he won back their trust by leveling only a small part of the city this time around, though if it were my decision, I suppose I'd want the occasion marked just to reassure people that the unstoppable murder god was actually dead.
People at a memorial event scrawl a message along the lines of "if you want to see his legacy look around you" on the ground, which I found funny because it's very similar to one of the final lines in the (mostly dreadful) Starship Troopers 2, only in that film it was meant to be a satirical comment upon how even the deaths of disgraced figures can be hijacked in order to further the cause of fascism.

Superman does a Jesus right at the end - returning to an unwelcome and stupid narrative theme from Man of Steel that has been largely absent from Batman vs Superman in favor of other mythic tropes - or as most people call them, "cliches".

Whatevs.  That was the film.

Thursday 7 April 2016

I'm speaking loudly so you can hear me over the gap in our status

Having nothing better to do with my time, I am trawling through yet another mammoth series I barely understand on account of I am always at best one step ahead of my own ignorance and inability to grasp nuance.  Thus the charms of Second Foundation, the third or fifth novel in Isaac Asimov's Foundation series are probably largely beyond me, devoid as the book is of fart jokes or swordfights.  A game of two halves, the first part of the novel is about some telepaths second-guessing each other until one of them declares victory but then "HAHA FALSE MEMORIES" and it turns out they didn't win at all.  This continues for some time, even into the second part of the book, which is about a precocious teen searching for the titular Second Foundation and thinks she's found it until "HAHA FALSE MEMORIES" again.  To be fair, this is actually appropriate to the themes of the book, which explores the idea of a colony of telepaths manipulating events on a grand scale via obsessive long-term micromanagement of seemingly unimportant people, which creates a nice juxtaposition between the great conceit at the heart of the Foundation novels - that a macroscopic overview of history past and future called The Seldon Plan has been constructed - and the given caveat that the vagaries of individual lives and choices are largely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.  There's an inference - through the pivotal importance of the actions of individuals followed by the book and how they interact with each other - that this is possibly not true, and that the Seldon Plan is a long con on the wider galaxy, its creator's true work being the creation of telepaths who would manipulate events into something arguably better than the cyclic rise and fall of empires that leads to lengthy eras of depression.
I'm probably missing loads in the text as usual, but I enjoyed the overall experience.  I thought the change to proto-YA novel territory was an interesting swerve for a series that - three books in - has been pretty consistent (though not exclusive) in front-and-centering older males in its overarching story, and thought that the mix of chases and twists probably make it the most film-friendly of the Foundation books so far.
Now in the public domain and available for free download to your tablet or smartphone, The Scarlet Plague by Jack London is a post-apocalyptic tale that I checked out on account of its seeming similarity to A Canticle For Liebowitz.  There's some overlap in the basic premise, but unlike Miller's eons-spanning tale, London's work concentrates on a single group of characters in the year 2072.  Originally published over a century ago (in 1912), it's obviously dated a bit, but still holds up surprisingly well to a contemporary reading, with London's version of the future seeming to retroactively fall into steampunk territory.  A good - if brief - read.

Tuesday 5 April 2016

I'm just happy to finally have ladies on the bus who aren't wearing penis helmets

The Forest is deeply insensitive about its subject matter*, but it performs a clever sleight-of-hand in its writing to disguise its insensitivity by hiding it behind a racist depiction of Japan and its people.  Most people would call this "compounding an error", but the writers** of The Forest probably call it "doubling down", which is a poker metaphor, on account of what they have done is basically a gamble - one which sadly does not pay off for either film makers or film watchers.  The film is also based on nothing more than the fleeting notoriety of Aokigahara after viral videos circulated a few years back of decaying corpses discovered unattended within the forest bounds by hikers, so it starts with nothing, and then adds insensitivity and racism and hopes that's enough to support a film.  So far as I can tell: not so much.

*Japan's Aokigahara Forest, described outside the country as "notorious" as a suicide spot, but inside Japan is thought of in much the same way we in the UK might think of Erskine Bridge or Beachy Head.  By comparison, the London Underground sees twice as many suicides each year as Aokigahara does, and reports considerably more well-documented hauntings - one can only wonder why it doesn't also have its own horror film where superstitious locals warn of terrible danger awaiting white Americans who dare venture to such a cursed place.

**It took three whole people to write this racist horseshit.

Thursday 25 February 2016

One day I'll try lettuce, but not today

Today I applied a lick of undercoat to the walls of the back room.  It said "Eggshell White" on the tin and it only took about a half hour to do all four walls.  Afterwards, I sat back and watched as the damp areas of paint lightened in colour as time passed, though the strong smell of paint remained in the air as this happened.  Right after that, I watched Unfriended, which was considerably less interesting than what I had been doing up to that point DO YOU SEE?

Wednesday 24 February 2016

He's 70 but with proper medication he can still pleasure a woman

Jem and the Holograms is a film about some girls in a band called Jem and the Holograms, but it is also about one of the girls - called Jem - who looks at some holograms, so you know, this thing's got some layers.
The plot is that a video of teenage girl in her pajamas is put on Youtube and it gets loads of hits "for some reason" (one of the movie's most unrealistic moments is when we get a glimpse of the comments section of the video only to see it isn't full of men asking to see the girl's toes), and instead of being offered a job at a fetish website or taken into protective care as would happen in any properly-functioning democracy - America, you are a circus - she gets a music deal instead, and while she's in the big city feeling bad about having a music deal she makes friends with a miniature BB8 invented by her dead dad and after she solves some National Treasure-style clues (if the plot of National Treasure was engineered around places that could be shot within walking distance of the movie studio) BB8 shows her some holograms (because the film is about JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS - do you see?) and this makes her feel less sad about having a record deal, so she gives a lecture about not letting life experiences grind you down to a venue full of people at least twice her age and then plays one of those songs that isn't quite pop music and isn't quite rock music and then the film ends apart from a mid-credits sequence clearly shot much later after the makers realised that their preview material was - to put it mildly - not going down well with their intended audience and they needed to be able to say they'd actually included something that linked back to the trashy camp of the source material, so in what must surely be the dictionary definition of "too little too late", they go to the source material only after the film is over and even then only because they have been forced to do so.
I usually like bad films, and to be fair to it, this is a well-made film with many competently-realised individual components such as make up, acting, and editing - but a shiny turd is still a turd, and I really didn't enjoy this very much.  What stuck with me was the concert at the end where Jem unloads about her white girl problems on a bunch of strangers, as all I could think was that those people had come to see something camp and silly and fun and be distracted for maybe an hour or so and they have to sit through this crap - no, I'm not going to say this is a paradigm for the film itself, what gets me is: what did those people think at that point?  They weren't in on the backstage dramas of the film's main plot, so what did that speech mean to them, exactly?  Statistically speaking, a lot of the women - and some of the men - in that room had been sexually assaulted in the past, possibly by family members, and they came to see a Youtube-famous girl do some pop music so they could get out of their heads for a while but instead of that they get "life experiences aren't so bad, really, you, like, can't complain and stuff?"  Anyway, the mid-credits sequence would objectively be someone in that crowd rushing the stage with a knife is what I took away from this, and for a film based on a cartoon, these are not the ideal post-movie thoughts that should go through your audience members' minds.
Anyway, the acting is good apart from Juliette Lewis - although I hasten to add that I am not actually criticising her, I just have literally no idea what she is doing when she's onscreen - there's a nice line of editing where they splice Youtube videos throughout the film without also doing that thing they have now where they overload the screen with information and text because internet or pause buttons or whatever, the music is good, and the whole thing looks nice, it's just that the actual script is a hot mess of stuff that really needed focus and to be one thing or the other.  In closing, they may have made an awful film this time out, but I would be really interested in seeing this production crew would come up with if they one day decided to make a Jem and the Holograms movie.