In Which Our Narrator Expresses Opinions (and Opinions of His Opinions) Regarding Various Works Of Fictive Entertainment
C.S. Lewis once wrote a long and rather smart essay on entertainment preferences. Along with discussing individual tastes in one’s amusement he also admonished those who didn’t like a particular type of story to refrain from writing reviews of that story as their reviews could only be negative. With that thought in mind, here are some thoughts about the entertainment I’m consuming.
I’m the wrong audience for Berke Breathed’s new strip. It’s amusing. But… I remember finding Bloom County amusing. I found Outland amusing. But amusing doesn’t necessarily lead to long term appreciation. For me, Opus the penguin was entertaining as part of the Bloom County ensemble. The whole cartoon animal interacting with (cartoon) human beings had an intrisic humor to it. Opus by himself doesn’t interest me much. Breathed’s art doesn’t tickle my aesthetic sensibilities.
Still, I congratulate him on getting the dedicated half page. I hope the strip succeeds. Because then maybe someone will come up with a comic strip I am interested in.
Nizzibet loves the Chaim Potok novel. So Christmas Eve we watched the 1981 film adaptation that starred Robby Benson and Rod Stieger.
Seemed like a well done film. I can’t really say more. I’m not the audience for it. I’d likely have never seen the film without Nizzibet’s company. I might read the novel enventually but I’m a compulsive reader. I’m far more willing to give my attention to a book about subjects outside my automatic interests than a film about the same.
Much more to my taste. A young man from the Bronx works his way into becoming an assistant to Dutch Schultz and survives his employment through a combination of smarts and luck. Dustin Hoffman does a good job at pretending to be Dutch Schultz. I enjoyed myself enough to suspend my disbelief when Schultz beats to death a man twice his size. Hoffman does evil well but he doesn’t have the physical presence to make me believe that he’d be much of a threat mano a mano.
I borrowed the current run of this title (in trade paperback) from the library. I found myself wondering what someone who hadn’t read the regular Spider-Man series would think of this “re-imagining” of Peter Parker’s story. I find it entertaining the way someone who knows the King Arthur myth enjoys a retelling of the story. They look for what’s familiar, they look for what’s been changed and they judge and evaluate what they are reading based on what they expect is coming.
Thing is, Peter Parker’s story wasn’t written with the future in mind. Stan Lee didn’t expect Spider-Man to still be around in 40 years. He and his artistic collaborators made it up as they went along. So predictably, that story is a big ol’ mess that has gone on way too long.
Ultimate Spider-Man starts at the beginning with the idea “What is Peter Parker gained spider powers in today’s world?” and then goes from there. I enjoy the greater depth of character given to the supporting cast – Mary Jane is adorable, Gwen Stacy is an attractive mess, Aunt May never seems on the verge of a heart attack and we’ve given quite a bit of Uncle Ben before he is murdered. The no-superhero stuff works well.
It’s the Spider-Man side of the story, the villains and their dastardly machinations that don’t have as much spark for me. The Kingpin is a big fat guy who rules all the crime in New York in the original continuity and that’s what he is here. Electro is just there – some guy who tosses around electric bolts. Now he’s the result of genetic experimentation rather than a freak accident. Eh. Kraven the TV star is funny and not really so different from the original. None of those guys were that interesting to begin with that I’d mind any real changes to them.
It’s the revisions of the Green Goblin and Doc Ock that don’t work so well for me.
I much prefer the old school Goblin in a costume with the bat glider and pumpkin bombs to the mutating freak with plasma blasts. The old version has a goofy style. You never knew if Norman Osborn was just his usual ruthless businessman self or if the Goblin was awake and pulling the strings. The new version is just so ordinary. Osborn here was a vicious asshole before he became the Goblin and he becomes the Goblin intentionally in order to become a superpowered asshole. The scaly ugliness is an unintentional side effect. He and the Goblin are the same personality.
Doc Ock is just crazy and murderous in his first adventure. There’s none of the criminal mastermind and his ingenious plots. He’s bent on getting revenge on the man he blames for making him a freak. Revenge is so one note.
Ultimately though, this series works more on nostalgia value for me than anything else. The Marvel Universe would be fun to play with if it were in public domain but I’m no longer a fan of it. I don’t have the time to keep up.
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers – Extended Edition
This movie rocks. End of story.
We’re about three quarters of the way through the DVD collection. It’s a fine series and demonstrates once again that television executives are stupid and insane. Why else would someone commission a science fiction series from the creator of Buffy and Angel and then actively work to ensure that it failed? Wouldn’t it have been cheaper to commission a half hour sitcom?
Someday I hope that network television becomes just step in the life of a series. That a series will get its start there and then move on to original DVD productions once an audience has found it. Although for that to work you’d need to have movie executives with a few more IQ points than TV executives.
That’s my rant for today. Cheers y’all.