Saturday, 31 May 2014

Monthly Mini-Reviews: May

Yes, it's back! That old regular feature of this blog, the monthly selection of four mini-reviews (oh, I know, it's nothing but pizazz on this site), has returned - and, boy, are you in for a treat. Here's a bumper crop of assorted goodies for you to... muse over my analysis of a certain example of modern storytelling. What better way could there be to party your way into the next month?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Season Seven)

Me and BTVS have a peculiar relationship. About a year ago, we were having a good time, enjoying each other's company - it showing me what it could do, everything from playing with genre conventions to strong character drama, and me very much enjoying it - until one day we simply parted, without even a goodbye.
This was the case until I recently remembered I had not seen the show's final season, something I speedily put to rights. Said season sees the Slayer and her scoobies (try saying that three times fast) prepare for the end of the world at the (incorporeal) hands of the ancient entity known as 'the First Evil.' As a whole, it has its ups and downs but, thankfully, its downs are never too damning and its highs are very strong. Particular mention must be made to the season finale which rounds the televisual lives of our heroes off with aplomb. Now, there's no more left. You know, I think I remember why I put off watching the final series in the first place...

 V for Vendetta 

Any story by comic book supremo Alan Moore is notoriously difficult to adapt to the big screen - with the big, bearded man famously hating many of them. However, the film version of Moore's dystopian thriller V For Vendetta manages to be an entertaining and thought-provoking effort. It delivers much that deserves praise, most prominently the well-realised horrors of a future fascistic Britain and the consummate central performance from Hugo Weaving - the actor makes us feel like we know the Guy Fawkes-flavoured V, one of my favourite comic characters for his charisma but morally dubious crusade, despite never seeing his face. Although the film makes missteps, notably the superfluous inclusion of a romance between V and his 'freedom fighter' protégé Evey, I see no reason why a film as daring and deftly-executed as this should ever be forgot..ten.

Marvel 1602

One of my favourite things about Neil Gaiman's writing is his ability, when tackling a popular fictional universe, to celebrate that specific storytelling world, something he did for both Batman and Doctor Who. Another fine example is this skewering of Marvel comic characters which asks; 'What if the Marvel universe was set in Elizabethan England?' 1602 sees royal spy Sir Nicholas Fury, daredevil Matthew Murdock, Javier and his band of 'witchbreeds' plus sorcerer Dr Strange team up to stop nefarious villains despot Otto Von Doom and the corrupt Grand High Inquisitor and his brotherhood from reaching the secret weapon of the Knight Templar - which will apparently bring about the apocalypse. While this all sounds a heady mix and even a little alienating for comic newbies, Gaiman weaves a tale about the nature of heroism that manages to get to the heart of its many characters, making us realise why they have been so beloved from their creation in the sixties right up to now. And including the 1600s, of course.

The Simpsons: 'Brick Like Me'

Though I still love that overbitten yellow family as much as ever, I rarely make a special case to watch the latest offerings. However, this month, I made an exception as the series reached its 550th episode and was celebrating in a most eyebrow-raising way; an entire episode made/filmed/animated (I'm uncertain of the appropriate term) with Lego. It could have been a cheap gimmick to attract viewers and sell a few Lego sets but thankfully it managed to be one of the funniest Simpsons in years (when king of slapstick Homer can fall apart without harm, you know that's going to be exploited) and, just like the good old days, greatly touching as Homer realises the pluses of living in a Lego world; that 'everything fits together and no one gets hurt.' It's delightful to know that, even after twenty-five years, The Simpsons can still build itself back up again (pun intended) to its best. It's just as I remember, in fact. A show where everything fits together and no one gets hurt.

You can read my own efforts to celebrate The Simpsons' quarter-centenary with my countdowns for both Homer's and Bart's greatest moments.


  1. Yippie it's back!

  2. Succintly said, sir! A mini-comment for a post of mini-reviews.


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