I’ve heard a lot of good things about N. K. Jemisin and I was impressed with this imaginative science fantasy novel, the first in her Broken Earth trilogy, even if I felt that it succeeds on a world-building level far better than characterisation.
The story takes place in a land called the Stillness, a bitterly ironic name for the world that’s plagued by constant seismic activity, and regularly experiences near-extinction apocalypses that are referred to by its inhabitants as the Fifth Seasons. Any settlement (or comm as they’re referred to in the book) can be certain that, sooner or later, it will be destroyed by earthquake, tsunami, volcanic activity or extreme climate change. In people’s imagination, Father Earth hates their very existence and does everything to wipe them off its face for good, but so far the human race has managed to pull through every cataclysm, even when the entire individual civilisations perish.
I’ve yet to see a Guillermo del Toro film that made me a true believer, but this visually ravishing adult fairytale came closest, and is easily the one I’ve enjoyed the most. At the very least, you gotta admire him for tackling a premise that many would find way too icky with such sincerity.
I have a big soft spot for all things wacky and bizarre, and I enjoyed this colourful and wildly imaginative space fantasy from Luc Besson much more than I thought I would, after the so-so reviews. But if there was ever a movie killed by the horrendous casting choices, Valerian is surely it.
Neil Gaiman has become one of my favourite writers over the years and I was happy to get my hands on this latest third collection of short trips into the weird, shadowy country of Gaiman’s mind. It never really occurred to me to compare him to Ray Bradbury, but in fact Gaiman’s short stories have the same effect on me that I had while engrossed in Bradbury’s fiction when a teenager – a pleasantly uneasy sensation of looking at the world in a distorted mirror, or lifting the fabric of reality to find some dark, strange, disturbing things lurking underneath. Gaiman’s imagination is just as boundless, and his voice as a writer is just as distinctive (his books on the whole have a lot more graphic sex, though not in this particular collection).
I had a week off work some time ago, so I decided to rewatch all three extended editions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy back-to-back. Much like the movies themselves, it was an epic undertaking that started at around 9am and, with various breaks, came to the conclusion at almost midnight. I’m happy to say that they are still marvellous films and crème de la crème of the fantasy genre. I thought it would be fun to do a personal Top 10 moments from the trilogy and talk about the scenes or moments that, for various reasons, stayed with me the most. I also realised, when doing the list, what a huge part Howard Shore’s incredible score played in making many of them memorable.
This reboot of a beloved 80s classic is neither a comedy masterpiece nor a proof that Jesus died in vain, as some people’s reactions would have you think. After seeing it, it’s actually pretty bizarre that so much controversy happened over something that’s just a fairly average, perfectly corporate piece of entertainment that deserves neither big praise nor vitriol. I guess it has the pressure of succeeding as a female-led comedy blockbuster, which apparently every female-led big movie has to prove over and over no matter the past successes, which is irritating as heck but I digress.
Directed by John Boorman and telling the classic story of King Arthur, Excalibur is one of the finest fantasy films ever made and one of my favourite films, period. I didn’t always love it – in fact the first time I caught it on TV many years ago I actually thought it was one of the most ridiculous, stilted, hideously overacted things I’ve ever seen, and I suspect that this reaction would be fairly common. It wasn’t until later that I rewatched the movie and hopelessly fell before its dreamlike charm.