Ooh, a few things to catch up on, here. So! To business! If you haven’t seen me posting about these things elsewhere:
Thing the first: Captain America!
I saw it! It was great! And I wrote about it for Film4, thusly:
It’s true that it doesn’t aspire to be anything particularly weighty or original – but at what it sets out to do, it rarely puts a foot wrong. Director Joe Johnston, in full-on Rocketeer mode, crafts a charming and entertaining period action romp that may never exactly hit an unpredictable beat, but is no less enjoyable for it.
Miles better than Green Lantern, not quite as good as X-Men: First Class, but about on a level with Thor. Splendid.
Thing the second: New podcast!
My regular collaborator/partner in crime/argument board James Hunt and I have launched a new comics podcast, via our website Alternate Cover. It’s called The Graphic Novel Book Club, and it does exactly what it sounds like – each month, we solicit comments from our readers/listeners on a different graphic novel or trade paperback collection, setting discussion topic questions but also looking for any opinions/insights/etc. that people might have – then we throw them into the mix with our own thoughts and sit there chatting about it all for three-quarters of an hour. The first episode is now live on Podomatic and iTunes, and we’ve already posted discussion topics for the second, which we’ll be recording in a couple of weeks. Have a listen! Some people say it’s listenable and entertaining even if you don’t know the comics we’re talking about. I couldn’t possibly comment.
(And yes, it does have a slightly tautological name. “The Graphic Novel Club” might have been better, but then it wouldn’t have been as clear that we were specifically using a book group/book club format. It would have just sounded like a club.)
Thing the third: When Saturday Comes #295!
I’ve written at unnecessarily gushing length in the past about how much of an honour it is to write for When Saturday Comes, so I won’t retread all that ground again. But! This month is quite special, because for years now I’ve read their annual season preview supplement – in which one writer for each club in the league answers questions about their opinions on the previous season and expectations for the coming one – and thought about what I’d say if I were doing the section on Liverpool. So it’s quite exciting that this year, those answers are actually in the real supplement. I actually did a little double-take when I got the email asking if I’d do it. No, really.
What’s more, in the issue itself, an article I did a little while back about the history and merits (or lack thereof) of the away goals rule has made it to print. It’s not quite as exciting a piece as I was hoping when I started it – I was hoping to go into more extensive details about the circumstances of the rule’s creation/introduction, but discovered surprisingly little readily-available information despite doing some extensive library-based research and everything – but it’s still a relatively fun skim over the rule’s history and musing on whether or not it’s still a valid method of settling draws nowadays. Er, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Anyway, the issue’s out in shops on Wednesday – I’d post a picture of the cover, but WSC haven’t put it on their website yet. But it’s issue #295, it costs £3.50, and it’s got Stewart Downing, Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson on the front. So, you know. Buy it, if you like.
It’s only been up for a week and a half, that’s not too late to get around to doing it here, is it? Well, this thing’s intended more as an archive for my own benefit anyway, so. I saw Green Lantern. I like Green Lantern comics. I wanted to like the film. Did I like the film?
What follows is an uninspired superhero origin story that trots out all the predictable story beats of the genre without ever adding anything new or inspired. All the good promise of both the concept and some excellent effects sequences is lost in a script that is determined to plod its hero from A (reckless responsibility-phobe) to B (world-saving hero) without ever developing or exploring his personality along the way.
So that’s a big fat “no”, then. The rest’s over at Film4.
It’s been quite a film-y sort of time recently. I’ve managed to wangle my way into a number of screenings for free – some just because I’m great, but others because I actually have to – cuh – review the things. Anyway, while you don’t get to see my detailed thoughts on Pirates 4 (bit crap) and Attack the Block (bit excellent), I now have reviews up of what are likely to be two of the best films I see this year: X-Men: First Class over at Film4, and Senna on Den of Geek. I also did a fluffy tie-in piece for X-Men at Den of Geek (in a confusing bit of crossover since it wasn’t DoG I reviewed it for, but), looking at five other superhero properties that would make great “period piece” films – one for each decade from the ’30s through to the ’70s. Meanwhile, I also interviewed (well, co-interviewed) the director of Senna recently, but was a bit slow in getting the piece over to the DoG folk, so that probably won’t be up there until early next week. Have a look, though, it’s interesting stuff.
And also, although it was a few weeks ago, I’m quite pleased with my main contribution to the Doctor Who review canon this year (we’ll ignore my sloppy, far-too-short and unfocused review of “Day of the Moon”) – I’ve been waiting a long, long time for Neil Gaiman to write an episode of the show, so there’s a good reason why my write-up of “The Doctor’s Wife” is somewhat long and rambling. But I think I hit upon a nice theme with it, and that it’s a good piece all in all, so… yeah.
Firstly! There’s another issue of the fine and august publication When Saturday Comes out with something by me in it. Just a little something, mind – a sidebar piece for the regular “Screen Test” feature, in which old football-related VHSes are dusted off and written about. What did I review? Well, you’ll have to buy the magazine to find out, innit. But it’s something I used to own about twenty years ago, then recently remembered about, and thought “Hey, I should buy that off eBay and then write about it for WSC, shouldn’t I?” So I did. The cover looks uncannily like that picture on the left, and you can find out more about what’s in the issue here.
Secondly, last week I went to see the first of this year’s barrage of superhero movies, Thor, and then reviewed it for Film 4. And here that is. I didn’t make a single joke about how the lead character’s name sounds like someone with a lisp saying “sore”. I think that shows remarkable restraint and maturity.
I don’t think I need to re-state how excited I was about seeing this one. And it may not be perfect, but it has a damned good try.
… That the film gets away with foregoing any sort of traditional three-act structure is a testament to the assured, exhilarating style that’s long-since become Wright’s trademark. Despite cramming in six fights that would each serve as a commendable climax to many films in their own right, the viewer is swept along on a frantic rush of adrenaline throughout. Pausing for thought would betray that in most cases, the battles come along without anything like the build-up offered by the books – but in the moment, each is an inspired musical-style set-piece with its own inventive and unexpected resolution.
Full review up now at Film4.com. Meanwhile, James and I will be talking about the film – and the final book – in much lengthier, fanboyish and spoiler-filled detail over at Comics Daily at some point this week.