Fun, Endearing, but Entirely Unnecessary: Ant-Man

Ant-Man, Marvel, 2015

The general feeling around Ant-Man has been one of apathy from MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) fans, and it’s not all that surprising–with so many hits in the can, the world has been waiting for the Marvel mega-machine to falter. That said, Ant-Man is a truly enjoyable ride full of comical performances.

It’s just isn’t necessary.

The biggest stain on Ant-Man‘s production was the prolonged goodbye from writer/director Edgar Wright (of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and Scott Pilgrim fame), the first person tapped for the project. Wright’s falling out with Marvel was a lengthy, painful thing, clearly the result of everyone trying and then trying again to make it work well past the point of failure. It seems likely that Wright’s primary issue was Marvel’s insistence on working so much of the MCU canon into the film, and once he departed, fans were at a loss. ...

Ant-Man, Marvel, 2015
Ant-Man, Marvel, 2015
Ant-Man, Marvel, 2015
Ant-Man, Marvel, 2015
Ant-Man, Marvel, 2015

The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapter 25 and 26

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cover

The Harry Potter Reread was all ready to go to the park and then it rained and ruined everything. No picnic tea parties for anyone.

Today we’re going on a really awkward date and getting a new Divination professor. It’s chapters 24 and 25 of The Order of the Phoenix—The Beetle at Bay and Seen and Unforeseen.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

Chapter 24—The Beetle at Bay

Summary

Harry finds out what had made Voldemort so happy the night before—ten Death Eaters have broken out of Azkaban, including Bellatrix Lestrange. The Daily Prophet has a statement from Cornelius Fudge saying that these escapees likely ...

The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 17 and 18

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cover

The Harry Potter Reread has always wondered why cruise ships are so appealing to people when you can get the stuff on them pretty much anywhere else with the added benefit of being able to go other places beside the ship. Also why do cruise ships have pools on them. Many pools. It just seems so redundant.

Today we’re going to have trouble with the stairs to the girl’s dormitory and start taking so snazzy defense lessons. It’s chapters 17 and 18 of The Order of the Phoenix—Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four and Dumbledore’s Army.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

Chapter 17—Educational Decree Number Twenty-Four

...

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: “All the Mirrors of the World”

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, All the Mirrors of the World

Being the middle point of the entire series, the fourth episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell concerns itself with bigger emotions the the previous entries. It contains affections and discoveries and a parting of ways that stings terribly.

(Spoilers for the book version of JS&MN, for events that occur outside this episode.)

After the cliffhanger of last week’s episode, we find that Childermass survives his gunshot wound, though he knows something about Lady Pole is amiss that Norrell will not explain. (Norrell acts suspiciously toward his servant for using magic, to which Childermass rightly points out he has been learning from him for the quite some time.) The magician insists that Lady Pole be sent away, and she is taken to Mr Segundus, who has become a caretaker in absence of his plans to create a magic school. Once he drives Childermass from their door, ...

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, All the Mirrors of the World
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, All the Mirrors of the World
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, All the Mirrors of the World

Why Doesn’t Anyone Like The Lost World: Jurassic Park?

Lost-World-trex

I maintain that if The Lost World was not automatically pitted against Jurassic Park by virtue of being its sequel, people probably would have gotten a kick out of it.

That doesn’t change the fact that the movie couldn’t beat its predecessor without blindfolding it, hogtying it, and sending it into the raptor cage first, but come on—there’s nothing wrong with letting Dr. Ian Malcolm carry a film with a baby T-Rex in it. So why all the hostility?

Jurassic Park entranced us for many obvious reasons, but so much of it was bound up in structure, in its conceit. It was frightening because the protagonists were isolated, because they were forced to deal with a threat the likes of which no human being had ever encountered. At the end, everyone is safe but traumatized, and what’s worse, no one in the world knows what has happened to them. Even ...

lost-world-trex-attack
lost-world-spielberg
lost-world-cast
lost-world-trex-baby
lost-world-trex-family

What Makes Jurassic Park Such a Damn Good Movie?

Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant, Lex

Jurassic Park is special. And that’s a weird thing to get into because we don’t normally give high marks to popcorn films in principle. It’s seems unfair when they’re designed to engage us in a primal place, our most base emotions, to make us gasp and shriek and laugh in a darkened theater of strangers.

So the most obvious question becomes: what makes Jurassic Park special? Why this monster movie above so many others? (The answer is not simply “dinosaurs!” for everyone itching to say so. There have been many bad dinosaur movies. So many.)
This movie came out when I was a pretty young kid, and not the sort of kid who handled scary movies well. But I begged to see it—I’m sure plenty of kids from my generation remember doing the same. My parents (like many others, I have stats on this) kept my eyes covered ...

Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant, Sattler, Ian Malcolm, John Hammond, Gennaro
Jurassic Park, Tim, raptors
Jurassic Park, t-rex, Dr. Grant
Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant, Sattler, Dr Wu, Hammond
Jurassic Park, Ian Malcolm
Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant, Dr. Sattler

The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 15 and 16

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cover

The Harry Potter Reread will now recite it’s very own haiku:

Magic is the best!
Harry thinks so too, you know
So were the 90s

(One of those lines is a lie.)

We’re back to watch the government take over a school and form a resistance. It’s chapters 15 and 16 of The Order of the Phoenix—The Hogwarts High Inquisitor and In The Hog’s Head.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

Chapter 15—The Hogwarts High Inquisitor

Summary

The next day in the Daily Prophet, there’s a big headline announcing Dolores Umbridge’s new position as Hogwarts High Inquisitor, a position created by the Ministry ...

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: “The Education of a Magician”

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, episode 3

This week’s episode of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is concerned with the appropriate use of magic, the affects of war, and importance of silence and speaking amongst many other things.

(There are spoilers for the novel in this review, for the record, even past the point where the episode ends. So if you haven’t read the book, this might not be for you?)

This was an episode of communication breakdowns. Jonathan Strange heads out to Portugal, where he finds that the Duke of Wellington is not at all excited to have his help on the warfront. Arabella spends more time with Lady Pole, who tries desperately to explain to her new friend where she is spending her lost nights. The Gentleman spends more time with Arabella, trying to figure out how he might best sweep her away to Lost-hope, attempting to involve Stephen in his shenanigans. Childermass does ...

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, episode 3
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, episode 3
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, episode 3
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, episode 3
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, episode 3

The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 13 and 14

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix cover

The Harry Potter Reread was told that this coffee was lightly sweeten with brown-sugar syrup, and is perplexed to find that this coffee is not sweet at all. Mutiny. On the upside, this coffee is still pretty delicious.

Today we’re going to watch our fifteen-year-old hero suffer through torture and have an unfortunately tense conversation with a fugitive animagus. It’s chapters 13 and 14 of The Order of the Phoenix—Detention With Dolores and Percy and Padfoot.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

Chapter 13—Detention With Dolores

Summary

Harry hears students talking about his little tiff with Umbridge during dinner. It’s so disruptive that Hermione has ...

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell: “How is Lady Pole?”

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, episode 2

The second episode of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell introduces much of the core narrative, drawing together all the elements that will propel the story forward. Acquaintances will be made, parties will be attended, and aid will be given to the British government (though perhaps not from their intended source).

The episode does an excellent job at creating the stakes by which everyone will operate for the foreseeable future. We quickly come to realize that something is amiss for Lady Pole following her resurrection by Mr Norrell—that she has something to say, but seems to babble nonsense every time she tries to say it. Jonathan Strange encounters Mr Segundus during a summoning, and is advised to head on over to London to meet Mr Norrell. Strange does so and quickly becomes Norrell’s apprentice, seeing as he’s the only other practical magician who seems to be around. (We don’t count Childermass ...

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, episode 2
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, episode 2
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, episode 2
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, episode 2
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, episode 2

The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 7 and 8

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix coverThe Harry Potter Reread wonders what will happen when everyone starts getting all geared up for the Newt Scamander movies and people are talking Potter everywhere all over again. It’ll be the fandom’s own Force Awakens or what-have-you.

This week we’re going to view a creepy statue in a government building and get defended by Albus Dumbledore in court. It’s chapters 7 and 8 of The Order of the Phoenix—The Ministry of Magic and The Hearing.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

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This is Why Obi-Wan Lied to Luke Skywalker About His Father

Star Wars, Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan

The Star Wars films aren’t exactly complicated fare, particularly the original trilogy. (Not that there is anything wrong with that.) Luke Skywalker’s journey is pretty cut and dry, a solid line from farmboy to superbad in several short years. The Empire falls, the Rebels win, everyone is back on Endor in time for stormtrooper stew.

But how do you topple a galactic Empire, really? How do you get a boy who’s never known a life outside the sticks to become a galactic savior in the same amount of time that it usually takes to earn a bachelor’s degree?

The plan is likely less perfect than it appears.

[I’m coming with you to Alderaan. There’s nothing for me here now.]

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Is the Force A Religion?

Star Wars, The Phantom Menace

We can make all the jokes we want about how many real people list “Jedi” as their religion on government census forms, but… well, what exactly does that mean? Can the Jedi Code be counted as a religious doctrine? What does it mean if it can? It’s an odd question to pose perhaps, but one that might demand a revisitation as a renewal of Star Wars Fever is already underway…

[There is no emotion; there is peace.]

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“A Suit of Armor Around the World”: Avengers: Age of Ultron

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Here’s the deal: We can talk about Avengers: Age of Ultron as a film, or we can talk about it as a piece of the Marvel Cinematic Universe jigsaw puzzle. As a film, it’s a fun action flick with some deeply hilarious plot contrivances. (It’s inevitable with these sorts of stories, really.) As the next step in the MCU arc, it is a joyful smash of all the things that you like in the same place.

See what I did there?

[“You didn’t see that coming?”]

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Thor is Just a Codename, Right?: What Humanity Knows About Superheroes in the MCU

MCU, Tony Stark

Now that Age of Ultron is upon us, the Avengers will be smashing, hammering, and zapping a few more cities into rubble with the help of a rogue robot force. And while it’s been made clear that the public within the movie universe is aware of the Avengers’ presence in the grand scheme of things, you have to wonder… how much do they actually know? Yes, Black Widow published all of SHIELD’s secrets on the internet in Captain America: Winter Soldier, and the world has known that Tony Stark was Iron Man since he gave a fateful press conference and ignored his notecards… but what else does the average MCU Joe know about this team of mighty heroes?

Probably a lot less than we assume.

(NO SPOILERS for AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON)

[This guy’s still alive!]

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The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 5 and 6

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix coverThe Harry Potter Reread went outside without an extra sweater on this week, and it was the most surreal feeling. Truly the most. The absence of layers was frightening. Send help for layer withdrawal.

We’re going to pal around at Grimmauld Place this week, and learn about wizard cleaning! It’s Chapters 5 and 6 of The Order of the Phoenix: The Order of the Phoenix and The Noble and Most Ancient House of Black.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

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Terry Pratchett is (Supposedly) the Most Shoplifted Author in Great Britain for a Reason

Terry PratchettToday, April 28th, marks Sir Terrence David John Pratchett’s birthday, and along with being appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2009 (an honor that caused him to forge his very own sword from iron that he dug out of the ground), he was also once reputed to be the most shoplifted author in Britain. And what that tells us is actually very simple: Terry Pratchett writes wonderful books and we love to read them.

An only child and self-described “nondescript student,” Pratchett was first commercially published at age 15, and claimed to have received his true education from the Beaconsfield Public Library. He was an astronomy enthusiast all his life, and had an observatory in his home garden. There is an asteroid named after him. He had a love of wide-brimmed black fedoras, and a wit welcome among the likes of Twain and Wilde. While a ...

The Harry Potter Reread: The Order of the Phoenix, Chapters 3 and 4

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix coverThe Harry Potter Reread has typed “Harry” so many times that it’s starting to mess up from sheer repetition and accidentally type “Haryr” instead. Which just looks hilarious.

We’re about to meet our very first Metapmorphmagus and visit the worse house in all of wizardom. It’s Chapters 3 and 4 of The Order of the Phoenix—The Advance Guard and Number Twelve, Grimmauld Place.

Index to the reread can be located here! Other Harry Potter and Potter-related pieces can be found under their appropriate tag. And of course, since we know this is a reread, all posts might contain spoilers for the entire series. If you haven’t read all the Potter books, be warned.

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