April 3, 2008

Apologies for the long delays in updating, my nonexistent audience. The embuggerance of work has kept me away from a computer.

That said, this is a Bad Review Post because sometimes things are just bad. In the tradition, however, of trying to be generally nice I will try and keep it short:

Winkie, by Clifford Chase 

Winkie, by Clifford Chase.

The story of a plush bear who, for reasons never adequately explained, is alive and then rather implausibly gets arrested for terrorism under the Homeland Security Act and charged with thousands upon thousands of offences. Winkie is given the world’s worst lawyer, won’t speak up to defend himself, has the most biased judge imaginable and… oh right it’s satire. Gosh, guess I missed the satire brick falling on my head. Some Americans aren’t happy with the way their government deals with terrorism? Homeland Security pisses them off? Well sure, but this doesn’t work. Not as a framework, not as an allegory, not as anything really.

Strange bothersome thing about Winkie: the author seems to have a fascination with bowel movements. One of Winkie’s goals in life is, when he strikes out for his own, to learn to crap. This segues rather weirdly and uncomfortably into him apparently crapping out a baby bear a little later on via some kind of faecal plush immaculate conception. Er… right. There’s also a rather exorbitant number of pages and little vignettes dealing with Winkie’s owner having difficulty toilet training himself. I mean, I can see the connection, the irony and the relevance but eww. Guess analytical crap isn’t my thing.

It’s a strange, sad book and the satire was both very obvious and frustratingly irrelevant, at least in parts. Too much emphasis on faecal matters for my liking. There were some strengths, but it’s a first novel and shows a bit, unfortunately. Although very occasionally, when he wasn’t being endlessly miserable or crapping, Winkie was quite cute and likeable. A shame the surrounding cast and story weren’t. 😦

And now a movie review, also brought to you by Crrrrrrrrrrrrap:

Beowulf (2007) 

Beawful Beowulf (2007) — screenplay by Neil Gaiman & Roger Avary, directed by Robert Zemeckis.


Everyone says that Beowulf should be seen in 3D: it was designed that way, they say; without it you won’t get the full experience and it will look crappy, they say. Well, being stuck in the desert in the monsoon season and seeing it on a caravan park television movie channel, I unfortunately did not get to see it in 3D. Funny that I forgot to pack my trusty 3D glasses when I was sent to the middle of nowhere. So I will throw in a caveat here: perhaps Beowulf is indeed an utter masterpiece in 3D.

Because it sure wasn’t in 2D. If this is the future of computer-generated animation (CGI, for the 0% of the population who don’t know), we’re buggered. The occasionally well-rendered scene were buried beneath marionette people with stiff and unmoving faces, hair that stayed absolutely still except for the last quarter-inch which moved a little like a curtain’s edge, Angelina Jolie’s breasts digitally enhanced to the size of watermelons and pointing upwards so high they were close to poking her eyes out, and the most APPALLINGLY CRAP DRAGON ANIMATION EVER. It had a head like a gold potato and it flew like a bloody rod puppet and did I mention that it had a head like a GREAT BIG GOLD POTATO AARGH MY EYES MAKE IT GO AWAY

Oh God the Giant Space Chicken Monster in this 1950s movie was more convincing than Beowulf’s dragon. (Scroll halfway down that page to see the Giant Space Chicken Monster: it’s worth it)

It astonishes me that technology has come so far, and yet we can’t do the kind of seamless animation with a computer that we got with models, full-scale and miniatures and stop-motion in movies such as Dragonslayer. Which had a very impressive dragon indeed.

I didn’t particularly enjoy the dialogue or the story either: conversations between the players invariably came out stilted or lame, and the plot was sketchy and a little messy, with at least one very significant deviation from the original tale that kind of, in my opinion, rendered the original tale pretty much useless. For spoilery’s sake I will only say I’m talking about Grendel’s mother here and leave it at that. Sorry Neil and Roger: you’re both very talented people but this didn’t work for me.

Something that perplexed me even though I’m sure they had a reason was why Ray Winstone as Beowulf was digitally rendered to look exactly like Sean Bean. To the point where Bean must’ve approved his likeness or considered suing. Winstone apparently no longer has action-figure looks (according to the commentary on the DVD, I note, from his own lips) and so, fairly enough, didn’t necessarily want his character modelled on him, but why not create something new? And if you are using Sean Bean, why not have him voice himself…? And then there was the frankly surreal Matrix-y acrobatics fight between Grendel and Beowulf and AARGH THAT DRAGON IS BACK IN MY MIND GO AWAAAAY

I must say that I was under the impression it was supposed to be very violent and bloody and pretty much entirely for adults, but the version I saw looked very tame and there was surprisingly little blood. Also, when Beowulf was fighting naked (was that a spoiler? ah sod it) it was laughably bizarre to see objects just ‘happening’ to continue to cover his ‘manhood’ all the time (eg: someone holding a carefully positioned helmet or sword, Grendel’s arm in the way, etc etc ad infinitum). However, there is apparently an unrated version out there that is far more graphic, so perhaps the one I saw was a soft’n’squishy edited-for-mindless-TV-pap version. Which just made the whole experience even worse

Er, sorry. Not being very objective here, am I. Very well. In the interests of pure objectivity: I admit that I did not adore Beowulf, but I’m sure if I saw it in 3D, all of the previously mentioned issues would disappear in a puff of elegant perfection.

No, really.

OK, back to the book reviews next time, and something I hopefully did like. 😀


One Response to “Crrrrrrrrrrap”

  1. warriorwitch Says:

    your audience is here

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