Monday, July 01, 2013

media update: June

So I just finished playing the new version of Silent Hill 2 (cleaned up graphics and new voices, some of which are an improvement and some of which are most decidedly not) in the Silent Hill HD Collection.  I was running through town when suddenly a mannequin leg monster fucking CATAPULTED over a railing at me.  I screamed, and about ten steps later, it happened again.  And it kept happening to the point that it became more comical than scary.  Question for my fellow fans:  do you remember anything like that happening in the original?  Because I sure don't, and trust me, I played the everlovin' shit out of SH2 when it was first released.  I don't know if they added it to this version for scare value (and if so, mission accomplished, at least for the first two times) or if the game was glitching.

As ever, asterisks denote something I particularly enjoyed or found especially worthy of my time; your mileage may vary.


1. Red Moon by Benjamin Percy:  In this novel, lycans (aka werewolves) are real and have always lived among us.  The government has controlled them with mandatory drugs, but the lycans are sick of it, and they begin to rise up.

I had very mixed emotions about this book.  Parts of it were good, but the allegory was forced and it got to be a real slog near the end.  I almost quit with less than 100 pages to go, but I figured I might as well finish it at that point.

Side note:  I was reading this while waiting for G to come to bed, and when he climbed in beside me, he asked me what I was reading.  I showed him the cover and said "It's about werewolves, but I'm not lycan it all that much."

G:  "Oh, that's too bad."

Me:  "I said I'm not LYCAN it.  Geddit?  [nudge, huge grin]"

G:  "SIGH."

2. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves* by Karen Joy Fowler:  Rosemary was only five years old when her sister Fern disappeared.  When Rosemary gets older, she tries to come to terms with the loss that has colored her entire life, even though she desperately wants to forget.  ("When there is an invisible elephant in the room, one is from time to time bound to trip over a trunk.")  The unusual premise is buoyed by beautiful writing.

Side note:  If this book sounds interesting to you, please try to avoid reviews, most of which spoil something major that isn't revealed until almost 100 pages in.  The inside flap of the book jacket does a really good job of not spoiling shit, though, so you can safely take a look at that.

3. Joyland* by Stephen King:  In 1973, Devin Jones takes a summer job at an amusement park.  He enjoys the work, but when he finds out about the ghost of a murdered woman hanging around the park, his quest to find her killer puts him in jeopardy.  More of a coming of age novel than a scary one, but still quite enjoyable.

4. The Shining Girls* by Lauren Beukes:  Harper is a serial killer who's obsessed with murdering "shining girls", his term for young women with great potential.  He finds a house that opens onto other time periods, which allows him to murder and then escape into another era.  But a young woman named Kirby survives his attack, and she won't stop until she brings him down.  Imagine Looper crossed with The Silence of the Lambs, and you have this beautifully creepy book.  It's really fucking good.

5. Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo:  In Painters Mill, Ohio, an Amish man and his children are riding in their buggy when they're hit by a truck that flees the scene.  The man and two of the children are killed, and when police chief Kate Burkholder investigates, she begins to think it wasn't an accident.  Not one of the best books in the "Amish murder mystery" series, but it's enjoyable and a very quick read.


1. The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales:  An enjoyably trashy read about the titular "Bling Ring", a group of California teenagers who broke into the homes of several celebrities and made off with their shit.  Fun fact:  they were able to get into Paris Hilton's house because she'd left a key under the doormat.  Durrrrrrrrr.


1. Kick-Ass 2 Prelude: Hit-Girl* by Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.

2. I've Seen It All* by Shoko Takaku

3. Catwoman: The Game* by Judd Winick and Guillem March:  There's a seriously hot (though obviously not graphic) sex scene between Catwoman and Batman in this that's worth the price of admission all by itself, but the whole book is really good, and well worth a looksee.

4. Sakura Hime vol. 10 by Arina Tanemura

5. Demon Love Spell vol. 3 by Mayu Shinjo

6. Bond of Dreams, Bond of Love by Yaya Sakuragi

7. Gentleman's Agreement Between a Rabbit and a Wolf by Shinano Oumi

8. The Walking Dead vol. 18 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

9. Sweet Tooth: Wild Game* (final volume) by Jeff Lemire:  Oh my god, the last chapter of this had me AWASH in tears.  


1. Parker:  The ever delicious Jason Statham plays Parker, a thief who gets fucked over by his crew.  After he recovers from his injuries, he sets out for revenge with the help of a real estate agent (Jennifer Lopez) who accidentally stumbles upon his scheme.  Not essential viewing, but J-Sta kicks mucho ass and there are a few good lines.

2. Warm Bodies*:  R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie who's much more sentient than most.  When he consumes a teenage boy's brain, he experiences the boy's memories and falls in love with the victim's girlfriend Julie.  They form a tentative friendship, and together they may be able to cure the plague once and for all.  Based on the book by Isaac Marion, this "zomromcom" is a lot of fun.

3. Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters:  In this take on the classic fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel survive their ordeal at a witch's hands and grow up to become ass kickin' witch killin' bounty hunters.  I thought this would be silly campy fun, but it kind of sucked.  Not even worth watching for Jeremy Renner, who I think is hotter than Texas asphalt in July.

4. Jack Reacher:  An ex-soldier is accused of shooting five people, and when he's asked to sign a confession, he writes "Get Jack Reacher" on the page instead.  Jack (Tom Cruise) is ex-military as well, and he's determined to crack the case.  A decent thriller; it won't win any awards, but I liked it fine.

5. The Last Exorcism Part II:  Shouldn't the previous movie have been called The Penultimate Exorcism?

Anyway, this sequel finds Nell Sweetzer, the possessed young woman from the previous movie, living in a group home in New Orleans.  She's hoping to start a new life, but the demons want her back.  It's not remotely scary; I watched it late at night and home alone, and I never got creeped out, which is a sure sign that your horror movie ain't all that scary.  It's merely okay.

6. Priest:  This flick about a vampire killin' priest had been moldering on the DVR for over a year, and we needed to clear up some space for season 2 of Homeland, so we finally watched it. wasn't bad!  Don't get me wrong, it ain't something you need to pop onto your Netflix queue immediately, but it was dumb fun. 

7. Side Effects*:  Emily (Rooney Mara) can't seem to shake her depression, so after trying a slew of drugs that do nothing, she asks her shrink (Jude Law) to prescribe a new antidepressant that has some unexpected side effects.  A very clever thriller that you definitely shouldn't read up on before watching it; it deserves to be seen unspoiled.

8. Stoker:  After her father dies, India's uncle Charlie comes to live with her and her icy mother.  As time goes on, Charlie begins to reveal his true nature.  A strange fever dream of a movie directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance) and written by Wentworth Miller of Prison Break fame; it's beautifully shot, but the story never really grabbed me.

9. Mama:  After a series of unfortunate events, two little girls are left stranded in the woods, where a mysterious creature they call Mama takes care of them.  But when they're rescued and sent to live with their uncle and his girlfriend, Mama decides to come along for the ride...and let's just say she's the jealous type.  Some good creepy moments, and of course I always enjoy looking at Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka Jaime Lannister, aka the only person I'll allow to play Leon Kennedy in a Resident Evil movie.

10. The Call*:  After hearing a teenage girl being murdered during a call, a 911 operator (Halle Berry) takes a hiatus.  When she returns to the job as a trainer, she takes over a kidnapping call from a flustered newbie, and she quickly realizes that the hysterical girl on the phone is at the mercy of the same serial killer.  A very tense and surprisingly good thriller, although there were two, shall we say, strange decisions that made G and me quirk an eyebrow.


Like just about everybody else who owned an original Playstation, I played the first Tomb Raider game back in 1996.  The graphics were blocky and Lara Croft was a neckbeard's wet dream with her tight shorts and ridiculously huge breasts, but I enjoyed it fine...until I didn't.  I don't remember the specifics, but I got stuck in one area and got so frustrated that I ragequit and returned the game to Blockbuster the next day.

Fast forward to 2013, when the reboot/prequel was released with a younger, grittier, more realistic looking Lara Croft.  It got terrific reviews and I was intrigued by Square Enix's involvement, so despite my previous irritation all those years ago, I decided to give the new one a go.

In this installment, Lara is searching for the lost kingdom of Yamatai, which she believes to be located in the Dragon's Triangle off the coast of Japan.  She's accompanied by several people, including a documentary crew and a young woman named Sam Nishimura, whose ancestors lived in Yamatai.  But when a terrible storm wrecks her ship, Lara finds herself alone and desperately trying to reconnect with her shipmates.  Wolves, vicious islanders, and a host of other dangers won't make it easy, though.


  • Absolutely stunning backgrounds, ranging from mountain waterfalls to a crumbling palace.

  • Some really exciting moments; as G put it, it's like starring in your own action movie.

  • The control scheme is very intuitive and easy to use.

  • It's very generous with the check points, which is good, because unless you're the best video game player in history, I guarantee you're going to see Lara die at least a few dozen times.

  • Lara gets into quite a few gun fights, at which point the game turns into Call of Duty Lite.  I died several times during these fights, but man were they fun!

  • I do like a good badass heroine, and Lara fits the bill, whether she's stabbing a huge foe in the neck with an arrow or ziplining down the side of a mountain.

  • Kudos for an awesome visual nod to one of The Descent's most powerful scenes.


  • Although the story was serviceable enough, I never found myself emotionally involved, which kept me from liking it as much as I probably should have.

  • The voice acting was very lackluster, which I certainly wasn't expecting.  You'd think such a famous franchise would attract top notch voice talent!

  • Overall, this was a fun game with a couple of surprising flaws.  Although I didn't love it, I did enjoy it more than I thought I would.  For the record, G liked it more than I did, giving it a 9 to my 7.  He loved the Uncharted games, which I never played, and said this was very similar.  So if you like Uncharted too, trust G's score over mine!


    1. "Sunshine Like You" by The Waterlillies

    2. "You Can't Get What You Want" by Joe Jackson