Nov 212015


Regardless of the questions of individual or overall quality, The Hunger Games is an important series. Written in the shadow of Twilight‘s monster success, and it’s subsequent impact on the Young Adult genre, it was the first major YA property, post-Twilight, to get its ducks in a row for a film franchise. First to the starting line often means first to the finish line, so now it’s the first one we can look back on and assess how the whole thing went.

Which makes reviewing the actual movie, in isolation, really freaking hard. Not only am I being forced to review  a pop culture phenomena with impact on everything from other YA books to the superhero genre (do you think it’s a coincidence that WB announced Wonder Woman was going to be in Batman v. Superman right after Mockingjay and Frozen took the box office by storm) but also the final movie in a 4 movie series. That’s a lot of baggage for a single movie to carry.

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Nov 172015

tokyo ravens_dvd cover1

Tokyo Ravens, the Eastern supernatural anime series, returns with an even cooler opening credits into the second half of its first season. In the first half, a lot of the more meatier plot details were buried in a regular school day antics as usual format. This is thankfully not the case past Episode 13, which begins like a countdown to revealing the secrets of the Raven Coat in the finale at Episode 24. The plot gains surety as momentum builds, and Season 1 Part 2 is everything you could want from an anime. It is an exciting, much more tightly action-packed pace that builds on the potential seen in a world set with magical disasters.

A review copy was provided by FUNimation Entertainment.

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Nov 142015


I have never understood the broad cultural fascination with Steve Jobs. Yes, it’s obvious he’s an important figure in the tech industry, but for the life of me, I’ve never been able to figure out what he did, or perhaps more importantly, why he was valuable. Yes, yes, yes, that probably makes me a heretic in some eyes but I’m with the Imperial Inquisition, so I decide what’s heresy.

The practical upshot of this is that I’m not overly receptive to books and movies devoted to him, since I’ve never been able to figure out why he deserves them (which is probably why I found 2013’s fawning Jobs biopic so utterly tedious). But I didn’t need to fear: If there’s one type of biopic Hollywood likes to make, outside the “This person was awesome” biopic, it’s the “This famous person was an asshole,” biopic.

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Nov 092015


Steven Spielberg is an…interesting director. With a career now spanning 40 plus years and nearly as many movies, across multiple genres, settings and tones, he’s the biggest mainstream artist of the modern film industry. He manages to hit that rare balancing act where his movies are both well made and meaningful, but still financially successful. That’s a difficult tightrope to walk, and it’s even more impressive that he manages to walk it so consistently.

Now the Coen Brothers, they’re…they’re special. Gradually, over the course of the last three decades, they’ve managed to grab the title of premier artists in the movie making business. Point to almost any of their movies, and you’ll see something incredible, that almost no other filmmaker could accomplish, and their screenplays remain some of the best in the business. So when these two titans of the art form work together, the result has to be incredible, right?

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Nov 052015


Fiction does not produce itself in a bubble. Some of our most favorite stories are cliches, riffs on old ideas and beloved plot points–the true magic lies in how these old ideas are re-imagined in new ways.  Following in this tradition, Rainbow Rowell’s Carry On is a blatant meta love-letter to this fine art of remixing and rehashing well-known plots with fresh insight.

And she does it all with an unrepentant riff of the Hogwarts-style magical boarding school, complete with a predestined “chosen” hero, a magical arch-nemesis who really-shouldn’t-be-named and so many other cliches all-too familiar for the Harry Potter generation–in short: this is a self-aware fanfic of epic proportions, and it is brilliant.

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Oct 312015


Believe it or not, I do try to have something of a theme to explore during my Remaketobers, even if I don’t reference them much in the articles themselves. This year the theme I chose to explore was ‘Fidelity to source,’ and all of my choices this year reflected that. Most of the choices this year were slavishly devoted (none more than Psycho), all of them to their detriment, as their devotion to their sources kept them from being more than pale retreads of old material.

But what if, I thought to myself, I chose a film whose connection to its original movie was borderline non-existent. A film who merely used its original as a concept, to jump off into an entirely new story, unconnected in tone, content or even theme? Well when I thought that, I knew exactly what movie I had to choose.

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