Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reading List: December

To compensate for last month's paucity, I have managed to read twelve (12!) books this month, bringing my total count this year to 63 books and 62 graphic novels or trade paperbacks or whatever you want to call them. 63 books is only a little bit over half of what Stephen King read this year (100 books), but it is my personal best since I started keeping track of what I read in 2001 (2005 held the record with 62 books, but not anymore). And now that you've had more than enough useless statistics, this is what I read in December:

Kushiel’s Dart
A disappointing novel by Jacqueline Carey, I already told you about it here.

What-the-Dickens
A somewhat entertaining story by Gregory Maguire, I already told you about it here.

Gears of War
The first graphic novel I read this month, this trade collects issues 1-6 of the regular series, and I have to say I was not very impressed. The story by Joshua Ortega, who wrote the second game, is not very interesting, and the artwork by Liam Sharp left me indifferent. The characters do talk like they do in the game, but other than that, the games are much more entertaining than this comic book.

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star
A terrific book by Brandon Mull, I already told you how great it is here.

The Grand Tour
Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer join forces again in this utterly forgettable follow up to Sorcery and Cecelia, a book I haven't read, and that, given how little I enjoyed TGT, I never will. I just didn't care about the characters or the story, and even though I have a feeling I should have found the story fun and entertaining, I did not.

The Infernal City
A compelling novel by the great Greg Keyes, I already told you about it here.

Fablehaven: Grip of the Shadow Plague
An amazingly fun yarn, I already told you how awesome it is here.

Puff, the Magic Dragon
Where the Wild Things Are
The Very Hungry Caterpillar
I read these three classic children's books because all my girls were making fun of me for not being familiar with the stories. Plus, they were a great way to beef up this list. I know, I know --I'm shameless.

Fablehaven: Secrets of the Dragon Sanctuary
Have I told you already how awesome this series is? I think I might have, but I'm not really sure. At any rate, the last book comes out in March, and I can't wait to get it!

Lo que no vengo a decir
The latest collection of articles by the wise Javier Marías, Lo que no vengo a decir is a great read, both because of what he says and because how he says it. I love the way he writes, and I usually find myself agreeing with what he is saying. If you've never read anything by the Spanish author, you're certainly missing out.

Off Season
A bloody tale of death and cannibalism by Jack Ketchum, Off Season was gruesome fun, and definitely not for the weak of stomach.

Deadpool: Secret Invasion
The second graphic novel I read this month, I bought it because I like Deadpool, and because the artwork by Paco Medina looked amazing. It was a fun read, and beautiful to look at, yet I don't know that I'll continue buying the series. We'll see...

Nightmare World
In this first volume, Thirteen Tales of Terror, Dirk Manning and a variety of artists tell, well, thirteen tales of terror. There wasn't any story I didn't like, and the artwork was acceptable in most of them. (The cover illustration is still my favorite, though.) All in all, it was a fun read, and I will probably get the second volume when it comes out.

So that's it for 2009. Here's to another sixty books next year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My Favorite Movies of 2009

2009 is gone, but it brought us plenty of awesome movies. As opposed to the last couple of years, in which I could easily choose the best movie of the year (Hellboy II in 2008, Stardust in 2007), I cannot do that this time, and I will explain why in a second. I have been forced to leave a lot of great movies out of this list, but I could easily make a Top 20, I enjoyed so many movies so much this year. But I'll stop rambling now. These were my favorite movies in 2009:

1. Inglourious Basterds and Star Trek
In my opinion, these two were the best movies of 2009, but I find it impossible to choose one over the other. Both movies presented an interesting universe with a cool story that was both very original and presented a fresh, clever take on some familiar elements. Both movies were packed with action, tension, suspense, and had strategically-placed humorous one liners all over. Both movies were very well acted, with spectacularly compelling characters, and were a blast to watch. I saw them both twice in theaters, and I have already bought Star Trek on DVD, but haven't watched it already. (Inglourious Basterds was sold out, so I couldn't get it when I went to buy ST.) The only difference between these two films is the tone, IB being dark and bloody, and ST being much lighter fare. How to choose, then? Sometimes you're in the mood for shiny action-adventure, and some other times you'd rather watch something grim and gritty. That's why I can't choose, and I therefore award both films with the prestigious Jhannian Movie of the Year Award. Congratulations!
Read my original reviews here and here.

3. Up
Technically brilliant, Up was also funny, heartrending, surprising, and incredibly moving. Once again, Pixar showed us creativity is key, and originality will put you ahead of everyone else. One of Pixar's top five films, and that's saying a lot.
Read my original review here.

4. Sherlock Holmes
I like all things Victorian, and when you add a detective (and not just any detective), audacious action scenes, sharp costumes, and great actors, chances are I'm going to love the movie. Like I said in my original review, I found it quite original and supremely entertaining, and I'll make sure I get it on DVD as soon as it comes out.

5. The Hangover
The surprise hit of the year, The Hangover was outrageously funny, twisted, and impossible to predict. I laughed so hard all throughout the movie I was surprised I wasn't crying by the time it was over. Certainly one of the most enjoyable movies of the year.
Read my original review here.

6. Zombieland
I have just realized that, so far, all the movies on this list were original in more than one way, and that's probably why I liked them the best. Zombieland surprised me on so many levels that I can't talk about it without spoiling most of the film. The movie was hilarious, with great characters and the acting was dead on (lame pun intended). Even if you don't like zombie movies, you should give this rollercoaster of a film a chance, and see what happens.
Read my original review here.

7. Avatar
Had Avatar's story been more original, it would have been much higher on this list. Still, it was groundbreaking in more than one sense, and Zoë Saldana as Neytiri elevated the movie more than I would have thought possible. Definitely worth seeing in theaters to make the most of its glorious visuals.
Read my original review here.

8. X-Men Origins: Wolverine
Most everyone seemed to dislike this movie, but I really, really liked it. As a matter of fact, I just watched it on DVD again, and I simply loved it. Sure, there are a couple of things that were left hanging, but I liked the story, and the combination of Wolverine, Gambit, and Deadpool is simply irresistible to me.
Read my original review here.

9. The Proposal
I was going to choose District 9 over this comedy, but the truth is that, amazing as Neill Blomkamp's movie was, I enjoyed The Proposal a lot more. I am a sucker for comedy, I know that, and this one is plain hilarious. The chemistry between Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds is out of this world, and even though its plot is as by-the-numbers as Avatar's, I still had a great time at the movies.
Read my original review here.

10. Drag Me To Hell
The last movie of the list is another example of unoriginal elements that somehow made for a supremely entertaining story. I think it was because I was rooting for the main character the whole time, but it could simply be that Sam Raimi is an old pro and knows what he's doing.
Read my original review here.

And that's it for 2009. Like I said, I could have included plenty of other great movies, such as 9, District 9, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, or Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but I tried really hard to stick to only ten films. Still, having had such a hard time choosing only ten means there were lots of enjoyable movies to choose from, which is always a good thing. Let's see what 2010 brings to the big screen...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Top Ten Books

Let's face it: my top tens will never have only ten entries, and I'm not even going to try to make up an excuse this time. If you think you can deal with that, please read on to find the "ten" books I enjoyed the most this year.

1. The Pillars of the Earth
Easily the best book I read in 2009, Ken Follett's undying classic is absolutely amazing, as I already told you here. Thank you again, my dear Hal, for getting it for me.

2. The Dresden Files
This year I read the first nine books in the series (there are eleven so far), and every single one of them was great. For Jim Butcher to crank them out so regularly and have each novel be better than the previous one is nothing short of amazing. Thank you, Nash, for getting me started!

3. Fablehaven
This series by Brandon Mull will consist of five books, four of which are already out and are terrific fun to read, as I've already mentioned several times. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

4. El club Dumas
This might be my favorite novel by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and it is phenomenal from beginning to end. If you still haven't read it, you're wasting time.

5. The Alphabet Mysteries
I read a bunch of Kinsey Millhone advetures this year (from K to T, as a matter of fact), and this series by Sue Grafton never disappoints. I will single out T is for Trespass as one of my favorites, but every novel in the series is just great.

6. Which Lie Did I Tell?
Another book Halagan got for me, William Goldman's adventures as a screenwriting were tremendously interesting. It's weird that I don't read more non-fiction books, because the few I do read I tend to enjoy a lot.

7. Percy Jackson & The Olympians
After reading four out of the five books in this series by Rick Riordan, I can say that I am dying to see The Lightning Thief, the movie based on the first book. I hope it is a big success, so that they turn them all into cool films.

8. Victory of Eagles
The fifth book in the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik, I think Peter Jackson said (at the San Diego Comic Con) the sixth one will be the last one. Whether or not this turns out to be the case, you could do much worse than getting to know this particular dragon and his captain, the way-too-proper Laurence.

9. Smoke and Mirrors
A collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman, Smoke and Mirrors is wildly imaginative, and you will read each and every tale in the book with a sense of wonder and enjoyment like you have rarely experienced.

10. The Infernal City
Of course Greg Keyes had to pop up on this list at some point. I already told you how much I enjoyed this short novel, and I can't wait to read the second and last part of the story.

And that's it for 2009. What awesome books will I read next year? Well, I'm about to find out!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Victory- an

I just came back from seeing Sherlock Holmes, and I am glad to say it was as awesome as I expected. The acting was great, but I shouldn't be surprised, seeing the movie stars Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams. I loved their portrayal of the characters, and I actually liked the more physical and action-oriented take on the classic characters. That is not to say this is an action movie, but those scenes blend seamlessly with the more cerebral work Holmes does throughout the film, and I, for one, enjoyed it tremendously.
The story kept surprising me and kept me guessing, and after having seen Avatar with its ultra trite plot, SH was a breath of fresh air. And still, I'm sure Halagan will be able to point out fine details and things and parts that either don't make much sense, are not necessary, or contradict something else. Well, since I will probably go see this movie again, I'll pay extra attention and try to catch any goofs or inconsistencies in the story.

All in all, Sherlock Holmes delivers the goods, and I can't wait for this to become a great franchise. The last great movie of the year!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Seriously Sibilant Susurri

The Wench With a Million Sighs is the first Empowered book to be released as a floppy instead of a big, meaty OGN. According to Adam Warren, the material in this comic book will not be collected in volume 6 (coming out next year) but 7 (out sometime in 2011), but even if it was to be part of volume 6, I would have still bought it to support him. The reason? Empowered is laugh-out-loud funny. You know how you always read reviews saying a particular book or author is so funny you will laugh out loud when you read it in public and people will look at you funny? Well, that never happens to me (except for being looked at funny; that does happen, but for entirely different reasons), no matter how much I am assured and guaranteed I will laugh out loud, either in public or at home. I might laugh once or twice, and chuckle a few more times, but that's it. David Sedaris doesn't make me laugh out loud as much as he apparently does other people. Same with Dave Barry. Bill Bryson and Terry Pratchett get better results, yet not as often as I would expect based on other people's comments. But Adam Warren does. His art is beautiful, but his writing is insanely good. When I say the dialogue (or maybe I should say different monologues) in this book made me laugh out loud, I am not exaggerating. The Caged Demonwolf's alliterative combos are so audacious, so ludicrous, so wildly imaginative, and so spectacularly literate and nonsensical at the same time that I actually read them out loud for maximum effect. How can you not (a) laugh out loud; and (b) read it out loud, when you come across a passage such as this one: "But nary a pusillanimous primate populating this pitifully puny planet can sigh up a storm as awe-inducingly as the Alpha Wench!" That's a six-word alliterative combo, and it's not even close to being the longest or the funniest in the book. Sure, you could say that people don't talk like that, and they don't (even though maybe they should). But the Caged Demonwolf is not a person! He's the Scourge of the Spaceways, the All-knowing Autarch, the Eagled-Eyed Erlking, the Salacious Starspawn! He is Adam Warren's genius at work, and that's why you should buy this book and the previous five Empowered volumes available right now. Go get them!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Bay's Best

Michael Bay just directed his master-
piece. Check out this video and praise his genius.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Feliz Nawiidad

Hace un tiempo, en los comentarios a este post, se discutió acerca de las consolas que ocupan el mercado hoy día. Mientras que a nadie parecía interesarle la Playstation 3 de Sony, dos facciones encarnizadas defendieron a muerte la Xbox 360 de Microsoft y la Wii de Nintendo. Yo era de estos últimos.

Ambas consolas responden a diferentes maneras de ver el mercado videojuegueril. La Xbox según el modelo clásico de expertos jugones, basado en la duración, espectacularidad gráfica, sonido y guión de los juegos, que explotan al máximo todos los botones del mando de control. La Wii según el nuevo (y a la vez tan antiguo) modelo activo de juego que atrae a jugadores esporádicos, con la simpleza como filosofía, buscando potenciar más que nada la jugabilidad, y haciéndole un hueco a la obtención de beneficios paralelos para el jugador (como, por ejemplo, el mantenimiento físico).

Personalmente, siempre me han gustado los juegos largos y complejos, aquellos en los que la experiencia es un grado. Pero, al menos durante este momento de mi vida, y probablemente en los venideros, respondo más al segundo perfil. No quiero juegos que me hagan estar incontables horas frente a la pantalla, sino algo a lo que poder recurrir de cuando en cuando sin mayor preocupación. No quiero jugar sentado frente al monitor, sino tomar una posición activa y moverme en torno al salón. No quiero una consola a la que le saque el mayor partido jugando solo, sino una experiencia más social, compartiendo el juego con amigos o familia. Y le doy más importancia a la jugabilidad que a los gráficos en alta definición (aún más teniendo en cuenta la jurásica televisión que uso para jugar).

Así que me he decidido hace tiempo. Quiero una Wii. Sabe Dios cuándo podré comprármela, porque en casa andamos un poco justos de dinero, y, sinceramente, hay gastos más importantes que afrontar. Quizá dentro de unos meses sea el momento.

O quizá el momento haya sido este mes pasado.

Hace unas semanas mi novia me regaló la Wii. Se me presentó en casa con el nuevo pack negro que contiene Wii Sports y Wii Sports Resort, más un mando adicional. Regalazo. Me costó unas horas asimilarlo, porque me había resignado a esperar unos meses antes de poder comprarla, pero por algo tengo la mejor novia del mundo. Y hay gastos más importantes, desde luego, pero un regalo es un regalo.

Puedo decir ya sin temor ninguno que no me equivoqué ni media. La Wii es la consola para mí. Lo tenía demasiado claro como para que hubiera resultado ser de otra manera. No me canso de ella, entre otras cosas porque no estoy ni mucho menos todo el día jugando. La comparto con mi novia, mis amigos y mi familia (resulta que mis padres también se han hecho con otra). Adoro su simpleza, pero sobre todo su endiablada jugabilidad. Adoro jugar haciendo el subnormal frente al televisor. Y lo que es más, adoro ver a otros jugar haciendo el subnormal frente al televisor.

Tanto Wii Sports como Wii Sports Resort son juegos muy entretenidos, pero no nos engañemos, son lo que son, minijuegos para reuniones sociales o en los que ocupar veinte minutos del día. Pero qué veinte minutos, y qué reuniones sociales. Partidas de bolos, épicas a la par que hilarantes luchas a espada, relajantes momentos de golf, adictivas partidas de tenis o ping pong, emocionantes concursos de triples... No les pido más, la verdad.

De momento me conformo con lo que ahora mismo tengo, y la verdad es que no quiero mucho más. En el futuro me compraré un Rock Band, eso seguro, y estoy sopesando hacerme con algún Zelda, un Mario, y probablemente recuperar en la opción de Consola Virtual alguno de los juegos con los que tanto disfruté en los 8 y 16 bits. Pero de momento...

¡Mario Kart, allá voy!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Gripping

I know I keep telling you guys about the Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull, but I'm enjoying it so much it's kind of hard not to gush about how good it is. Grip of the Shadow Plague is the unlikely third title in the series, which, even though I had been told was a trilogy, will actually be five books. I really liked the first one, I loved the second one, and this one just blew me away. I really like the characters and their world, but what I enjoy the most is how the pieces fit together. Something (a place, an object, a creature) that was mentioned in passing in one book will later rise to prominence and come into play in another one. New characters will be introduced, and they will change the dynamic between the characters we already knew. Said well-known characters will evolve, change, and find themselves in a completely new position that will alter the aforementioned group dynamics, and all of a sudden you have a new playground with the same old pieces. Am I making any sense? These constant changes are fun and unexpected, but they are conducted in such a way that you can only nod and say "Well, it makes perfect sense". Add to that an exciting, fast-paced story that Mull tells in a supremely entertaining way, great dialogue, and plenty of adventure, and the result is a rollercoaster of a series that I can't recommend enough.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I'm Blue Too

I hadn't used my watercolors in about four years or more, and all of a sudden I found myself wanting to play with them for a while. I thought of drawing the fog giant that appears briefly in the second book of the Fablehaven series, but whether or not this drawing looks anything like the character I leave up to you. The character was pretty much an excuse to play with blues and greens, and the picture accompanying this post is the result of said play time. I hope you like it!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I'm Blue

The long-
awaited Avatar is finally here, and I even though I did want to go see it as soon as it came out, I didn't really have high expectations. Did I think it was going to be bad? Not at all, but I wasn't as excited about it as I am about Sherlock Holmes, for instance. Still, the previews looked great (and revealed too much), so I went to the Majestic to see it in 3D.

Let me tell you right now that I had a great time watching Avatar. The movie is beautiful, the visuals incredibly lush and imaginative, and every single aspect has been well thought-out and carefully developed. The world of Pandora is breathtaking, and the creatures that inhabit it are impressively designed. Among said denizens, the Na'vi stand out for obvious reasons. They are the blue feline humanoids the invading humans are struggling with, and they look as real as their flesh and blood costars. The animation is phenomenal, and their facial expressions range from sad to furious to delighted with uncanny realism.

Since I mentioned the actors, I think James Cameron did a great job directing his stars, and Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, and Stephen Lang do an amazing job. However, and strange at it may seem, I think it was Zo
ë Saldana who stole the show with her voicework as Neytiri, the young female Na'vi that teaches Jake Sully (Worthington) the ways of her people.

The movie is two hours and forty-six minutes long, but it didn't feel that long at all. The story unfolds at a nice pace, and except for some very clunky exposition at the beginning of the film, the narrative flow is excellent. The story, however, is the one thing that doesn't shine in Avatar, and that is a shame. In a movie that captivates the audience in a million different ways, to have a story so trite, so utterly predictable, and so fantastically unoriginal is almost unforgivable. If you have seen the trailer, you know exactly what is going to happen; and if you haven't, you will also know exactly what's going to happen twenty minutes into the movie. The script by Cameron hits every beat this kind of story has been hitting since the first tale in the history of mankind was told, and that is very unfortunate. I will not say anything else so as not to spoil the movie, but if you've seen it already, you will know exactly what I'm talking about, and we can discuss it in the Comments section.

Still, Avatar is so much fun, the world is so rich, the characters' plight is so compelling, and Zo
ë Saldana's voice acting is so movingly heartrending that I couldn't help but loving the movie. Had the script been more original, Avatar would have been a masterpiece. Since that is not the case, Avatar remains a very entertaining film which is gorgeous to look at and lots of fun to explore, so go see it and tell us what you think!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Final alternativo de Crepúsculo

¿Qué se puede decir de esta imagen? Pues que mejoraría notablemente la saga de Crepúsculo y alegraría a un montón de gente que no traga a estos vampiros descafeinados.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Mute

Is there anything Eric Powell can't do? The latest issue of The Goon, that great series you should be reading, will feature no dialogue. Or maybe I should say no words, because there are plenty of things being said. If you don't believe me, check out the sample pages and see whether you crack up or what. Even when Powell isn't using words, he still manages to be hilarious. Go buy The Goon!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Laputan Adventures

The latest book by Greg Keyes crept up on me and was published even before I knew it was coming out. After his formidable Kingdoms of Thorne and Bone series, I didn't know what his next project was going to be, but the mystery is over.

Keyes has been hired by Bethesda Softworks to write two novels that take place in the universe of The Elder Scrolls, their famous series of videogames. The first one, The Infernal City, came out a few weeks ago, and I finished it last weekend. I have never played any of the games, and I didn't have a clue what that universe was like, what the races were, or what happened in Oblivion, an event the book references because Keyes's novel takes place after that particular story. But it was a Greg Keyes book, and I was therefore willing to give it a chance.

At 287 pages, TIC is a quick read, and now I'm eagerly anticipating the second part, because the story stops rather abruptly and I want to know what happens next. In true Keyes fashion, there are three groups of characters whose stories alternate in the different chapters, and the reader slowly begins to realize how those threads connect and intersect. The most interesting one (and also the most original one) is the main thread, in which Anna
ïg and Mere-Glim enter the infernal city of the title. The second one is a bit more traditional, and it stars Prince Atrebus on a quest to stop the aforementioned city, even though that's far from the only thing he has to deal with. The third one is the one that is given the least number of pages, and it follows Colin, a guy who works for the king and who is basically the one the crown sends to quietly dispose of enemies and threats --the fantasy equivalent of the black-ops, if you will.

Everything you've come to expect from Keyes is here: an interest in languages, compelling characters, good dialogue, lots of dangerous situations, high stakes, and plenty of travel. I loved it all, and I never felt I was missing out because I'm new to the Elder Scrolls universe. So, if you like Greg Keyes, don't hesitate and buy The Infernal City; and, if you've never read any of Keyes's books, don't hesitate and buy it as well.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The End of the World

I only let two issues of the World of Warcraft comic book series pile up after my last WoW marathon, and it turns out this was the right thing to do. Issues 24 and 25 wrap up the second arc in the series with lots of fighting and little else, something you guys know I'm not particularly fond of. What I didn't know is that #25 was supposed to be the last one before the series changes its title to World of Warcraft: Alliance and goes in a "bold new direction". According to the ad in the book, we are going to have two WoW series starting next month. The first one, WoW: Horde, will start with a #1 issue, and the second one, WoW: Alliance, will start with issue 26, hence the "bold new direction" we are promised. So what am I supposed to do? I have been reading the series because I liked what Walter and Louise Simonson were doing, and the art by Mike Bowden really grew on me and I was enjoying it a lot. (He reminded me more and more of Joe Madureira, which is always a good thing.) Starting with issue 26 though, Mike Costa will be writing the series, and Neil Googe will be illustrating it. Also, there seem to be new main characters and a completely different story line.

Regardless of how this new arc turns out to be, #25 felt a little bit rushed. On the one hand, the fight seemed to drag on and on, but on the other hand, once the bad guy was dead, there were barely two pages devoted to the fate of all the main characters, and then it was over. I wish they had either had a shorter fight or a longer epilogue, because it really felt like they had run out of pages and the story had to be wrapped up no matter what. Would have hurt WildStorm to add a couple of pages to the book? They're already charging $3.99 per issue as it is, so I don't think I'm being unreasonable.

I guess I should count myself lucky I got closure, and that I happened to read this issue immediately after buying it, because this does feel like the right place to drop the series. The next story arc might be very good, but I don't think I'm interested, at least not right now. Maybe I'll get the trade whenever it comes out, or maybe I won't, but I think my tour of Azeroth has come to a end.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Old-Fashioned Goodness

I went to see The Princess and the Frog with no expectations whatsoever, and maybe that's why I enjoyed it so much. The animation was great, the characters were interesting, the witty repartee between Tiana and Prince Naveen was funny, the supporting characters (like Louis and Ray, for instance) were inspired and hilarious, and the bad guy (Dr. Facilier) was cool and smooth and hateful. And I even liked the songs!

Watching TPATF was like watching the great Disney movies from the last decade. It was as much fun as watching The Little Mermaid (Prince Naveen, by the way, totally looks like Prince Eric), Beauty and the Beast, or Aladdin. The directors, Ron Clements and John Musker directed both The Little Mermaid and Aladdin, so maybe that's why TPATF felt very familiar, even though it was a completely new story. It was a strange but exhilarating mix of old and new, and I, for one, had a great time at the movies. So, if you like those classic Disney films, rest assured you'll love this throwback to the old school way of animating movies. Great fun!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Affleck Was the Bomb

In Phantoms, Ben Affleck shares the screen with Rose McGowan, Liev Schreiber, and Peter O'Toole, and even though Kevin Smith might have been exaggerating when he raved about Affleck's performance, he still did a good job in this otherwise forgettable movie. I remember watching it when it first came out on VHS a long, long time ago, but I had managed to forget everything about it. (Maybe because it is forgettable.) After much joking about whether or not Affleck was the bomb in Phantoms, a friend bought it and let me borrow it, so I could experience it again for the first time.

What surprised me the most was that the film was written by Dean Koontz, who adapted his own book, but after reading his name in the credits it was impossible not to realize the story totally felt like something Koontz would write. However, while I like him, I don't think he is all that great, and the same happened with this story. I watched, I enjoyed it for what it was, and I moved on. Everything was just okay, from the acting (although I still wonder why Liev Schreiber's character was acting crazy even before he bought the farm) to the plot "twists", the special effects, and the music. (Actually, the music was kind of bad.) So should you watch Phantoms, then? Probably not, unless you want to find out if Affleck was indeed the bomb.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Witchblade #131

It's taken me a couple of months, but I finally got to read Witchblade #131. This is the first post-war issue, and it's basically a recap of the status quo so that new readers feel comfortable picking up the series. However, Ron Marz is an old pro, and he does this with grace and flair and the reader never feels like he's being told stuff he already knows. Marz achieves this by having an ongoing conversation between Gleason and Julie throughout the whole issue, and even though we can "hear" them the whole time, we can only see them some of the time. When they are not featured in the panels, we see what Sara is up to, and her actions blend seamlessly with what Gleason and Julie are saying about her. This way, Marz gets to both show us and tell us what's going on in an original way that's neither talking heads nor captions explaining what you can already see on the page. Tricky to pull off, but that's why Marz is the man. Plus, he nicely sets up the Angelus miniseries that spins off Witchblade this month, and that will also be masterfully illustrated by Stjepan Sejic. Buy Witchblade already!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Awesome Sequel

A couple of days ago I told you about a book for young adults that wasn't all that great. Today we have the exact opposite case: a novel for young readers that I thought was fantastic.

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star is the second book in the Fablehaven trilogy by Brandon Mull, and even though I liked the first one a lot, this one puts it to shame. Kendra and Seth are back in Fablehaven in a darker adventure that is full of danger, enemies, and near-death situations. And in the middle of it all, the mysterious Society of the Evening Star steps out from the shadows to try and find a magical artifact that will help them free some powerful demons.

When I put it like that, it sounds like the book has nothing new to offer to the fantasy genre, and that this mixture of modern-world reality, teenagers, and magic was already seen in Harry Potter and a dozen other knock-offs. However, this is far from the truth, and Fablehaven is immensely entertaining and ridiculously enjoyable, so whether or not you are impressed, I am going to rush to Barnes & Noble to buy the third volume!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Too Long, Too Repetitive

A couple of friends had fervently recommended Kushiel's Dart, the first book in a fantasy trilogy by Jacqueline Carey. I am not scared of long books, but at nine hundred pages even I found the prospect of reading it daunting. I started it, though, and when I was on page fifty or so and bored out of my mind, the guy who had recommended me the book said "Well, yes. It starts kind of slow, but once you get past the first 250 or 300 pages the pace picks up and it never slows down." Three hundred pages, if you ask me, is a lot of pages to get through before any story gets started. However, my friend was right… kind of.

The first 80 pages or so are boring and expository. The author is busy building her world, and she does this by drowning the reader in a sea of names, provinces, kings, queens, historical characters (historical in the reality of the book, that is), noble houses, royal families, and political intrigue. I love political intrigue, don't get me wrong, but it can be presented in a more dynamic and entertaining way, like Michael Stackpole does. Also, the deluge of information could have been more evenly distributed, each detail being brought up whenever it was relevant, instead of all at the beginning. As a result, by the time those plot threads came into play, I had forgotten who the characters where or why they were involved in this particular affair.

The story started to get a little more interesting from page 90 until page 250 or so, and then pages 300 to about 550 were really good. This is the part where Ph
èdre and Joscelin interact with the Skaldi, and it was hands down the best part of the story. I thought that at long last things were starting to happen, and I got all excited. However, the story went downhill from there, and the second half of the book felt very slow and repetitive, becoming a succession of travels and journeys to convince one lord or another to join the cause. (I know I'm being very vague, but you know I don't like to spoil anything in my reviews.) After a couple hundred pages of that, I was ready for the final battle, and the whole episode with the Master of the Straights that preceded it, I could have done without.

The final battle came, and it was followed by the longest epilogue ever, but at least it offered closure. Sure, there are two more books in the series, but the ending of this one (the author's debut novel) is closed enough that I don't feel the story is incomplete. As far as I'm concerned, the story is over, and whatever happens to the surviving characters in the following chapters of the saga is a different story. A story, I guarantee you, I will not be reading.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Fairy Tale

I bought What-the-Dickens because, weird as it was, I enjoyed Wicked, the best-known book by Gregory Maguire. I was in Books-a-Million, saw the book, I thought it looked interesting, and I purchased it. At 297 pages (and big print), What-the-Dickens is a quick read, and seeing it was in the Young Adults section, I shouldn't be surprised. Also, seeing it was in that section, I was ready for a story that wouldn't be as complex or adult as Wicked, and I was right.

What-the-Dickens tells the story of a rogue tooth fairy, or rather, it tells the story of a young English teacher telling the story of a rogue tooth fairy. Both narratives are intertwined, and both of them are reasonably interesting. Still, the book was merely okay, and even though it made me chuckle a couple of times, it wasn't as entertaining as I thought it was going to be. Therefore, I don't think I'm going to recommend you guys read it, but I don't regret having read it. Hopefully, the next one will be better!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Good Really Good

I had wanted to go see Gone Baby Gone when it opened back in 2007, but I ended up not doing it. Still, I hadn't forgotten about Ben Affleck's directorial debut, and I added it to my Netflix queue. I didn't know what to expect, other than it was supposed to be good. I remembered the good reviews and Amy Ryan's Oscar nomination for best-supporting actress, and I knew super cute Michelle Monaghan had a big part in the movie. So why did it take me so long? I don't know, but now that I've seen it, I can only say: go watch this movie. Right now.

Are you back? I'm going to go ahead and assume you really liked it, and as well you should. Casey Affleck does a great job as the young detective trying to find little Amanda, a three-year-old girl who has been kidnapped, and Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman, and the aforementioned Amy Ryan are superb in their different supporting roles. The acting was phenomenal, and the writing was so good it made me remember that, a long time ago, Ben Affleck won an Oscar for writing Good Will Hunting. This time it's not an original story but rather an adaptation of a novel by Dennis Lehane, but it doesn't matter. The dialogue is crisp and fast and rings true to your ears, and the story keeps surprising you as it develops. It looks like Affleck should focus less on starring in big blockbusters (or big flops) and more on writing and directing small films. If this is any indication of what's to come, I, for one, can't wait to see what he comes up with next. Go watch this movie!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Harleys & Indians

Here you have a quick sketch I drew while playing Dungeons & Dragons last weekend. For some reason, my friends and I started talking about biker chicks, and next thing you know the Hell's Bitches had been born. And there's really nothing else to say about this picture, so I hope you like it!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

El príncipe valiente

Como ya dije en otra entrada, recientemente he estado jugando a Prince of Persia, un juego que salió el año pasado y que me pareció visualmente glorioso en los vídeos y fotografías que en su día pude ver. Sin embargo, no estaba seguro de querer comprarlo, así que cuando me enteré de que un amigo lo tenía y ya no lo usaba, aproveché para pedirlo prestado y probarlo. El veredicto: me alegro de no haberlo comprado.

Es verdad que, visualmente, el juego es muy interesante, pero ésa es prácticamente su única virtud. POP es un juego de plataformas, y curiosamente el sistema de saltos es lo que más me hizo enfurecer mientras jugaba, por dos razones. Una, porque muchas veces tu personaje no salta cuando aprietas el botón, sino medio segundo después. Llamadme exigente, pero cuando tienes que ir saltando de plataforma en plataforma o de pared en pared y necesitas secuencias de movimientos precisos encadenados, este defecto es mortal. En la mayoría de casos, para cuando el principito tenía a bien saltar, yo ya había apretado otro botón para moverme en otra dirección, con lo que acababa saltando en esa segunda dirección y no la original. Como resultado, vuestro querido Fel acababa en el fondo del precipicio de turno.

La segunda razón es que muchos de los saltos requieren ayuda extra. Corriendo siempre detrás de ti hay una chica (Elika) a la que estás ayudando a restaurar las tierras del reino, y cuando un salto es demasiado largo, puedes apretar un botón y ella vuela, te coge en mitad salto, y te deja en la otra orilla o plataforma o borde o lo que sea. Esto es más subjetivo que mi primer problema, pero me parece que tener que usar el comodín de Elika para franquear un abismo que tal vez debería haber sido diseñado de otra manera es más un parche para arreglar un error que otra cosa.

Hablando de parches y de tu infatigable compañera de aventuras, Elika es tan formidable que jamás deja que mueras. Nunca. En Prince of Persia, sencillamente, no puedes morir. Cada vez que te caes por un precipicio (y son muchas, muchas, muchas veces), Elika te coge de la mano en una animación estándar y te regeneras en la plataforma en la que estabas antes de diñarla. Por un lado, es un buen recurso, ya que te evita repetir partes del juego que ya has superado. Por otro, sin embargo, no puedo sino pensar que esto no es más que otro parche, una forma de tratar de contrarrestar la frustración que el deficiente sistema de saltos provoca. Es como si hubieran dicho: "la gente va a estar contentita cuando vea lo mal que hemos diseñado los saltos en este juego, así que vamos a hacer que sea imposible morir para que no se quejen demasiado". Como ya he dicho antes, en vez de un comodín o una herramienta útil, me parece un intento barato de tratar de arreglar una tara fundamental en la arquitectura del juego.

Sorprendentemente, lo que más me ha gustado del juego ha sido los diálogos entre Elika y el príncipe, que son excelentes tanto por cómo están escritos como por las voces de los actores. Desgraciadamente, puedes saltarte la mayoría de los diálogos, dado que no son imprescindibles para avanzar en el juego, con lo que supongo que muchas personas se los habrán perdido.

Finalmente, debo confesar que sólo me he pasado la mitad del juego. Quería pasármelo entero, pero después de haberlo tenido abandonado durante un par de semanas, me di cuenta de que no tenía el más mínimo interés en continuar jugando, con lo que acabé devolviéndolo sin haberlo terminado. Supongo que eso es el testimonio más elocuente sobre la opinión que me merece este Prince of Persia.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Parallel Lives

I know Sliding Doors came out 11 years ago, but I had never seen it before. It was one of those movies I had always been interested in but never gotten a chance to see until Netflix came into my life, and while the movie was by no means great, I did enjoy it quite a bit.

In the first ten minutes of the film, Helen (Gwyneth Paltrow) is fired and goes to the metro station to catch the subway back home. She misses the train, and then we see her running downstairs again and catching it. That's where the narrative splits and, from then on, we follow Helen in two different lives: the one in which she catches the train and gets home early to find her boyfriend up to something he shouldn't be doing, and the one where she doesn't catch him read-handed. Both lives are very different and at the same time very similar, and they intersect at various points throughout the film.

Like I said, I liked the premise and I enjoyed the movie, and not only because Gwyneth Paltrow is super cute (but way too thin). It put a nice spin on the tired romantic dramedy genre, and at 99 minutes, it was lean and to the point, and it never overstayed its welcome. So check it out, and let us know what you think!

Monday, December 07, 2009

The Hills Have a Boring Script

This movie was so bad I shouldn't even be writing about it. I like horror movies, and violence doesn't bother me. However, everything in The Hills Have Eyes felt so trite, so pointless, and so ultimately irrelevant, that I stopped trying to care halfway through the movie and just fast-forwarded the second half, stopping at the dialogue scenes (not many, though). And even these were unnecessary to figure out what was going on, because by then the film had become a pretty straightforward bloodbath in which one of the few survivors was trying to keep things that way by killing all the bloodthirsty mutants that crossed his path.

I was going to say the one good thing in this movie is Emilie de Ravin, who is ridiculously gorgeous, but even that is not enough to justify watching this movie. I don't remember ever seeing the original film, but this remake is absolutely worthless. Skip it.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

There Can Be Only One

The latest installment in the adventures of the MacLeods comes in anime form. Directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Highlander: the Search for Vengeance is pretty much that: a tale of revenge that spans a couple of millennia. I think TSFV is the best sequel to Russell Mulcahy's classic 1986 film to date, but then again, all the previous sequels have been so bad that a kick in the crotch would actually be better than any of them, so that is not saying much. I did enjoy the film, though, even though I started to feel restless toward the end, and I think you'll like it if you're a fan of the franchise. If you only have a passing interest in the MacLeods though, then go ahead and skip it. But if you want to hear somebody say "There can be only one" one more time, and you don't mind anime, then by all means check it out. It couldn't be any worse than Highlander II, could it?

Saturday, December 05, 2009

A elegir otra vez

Estaba hablando con Halagan el otro día cuando salió, oh sorpresa, el tema de las mejores series de televisión, motivo recurrente tanto en este vuestro blog como en las conversaciones privadas que los Blogueadores Oficiales del Reino mantienen en cualquier taberna que encuentran, ya sea virtual o mugrienta y oscura. Halagan ya escribió en su día cuáles eran, según él, las diez mejores series de la historia, y a mí me faltó tiempo para poner mi Top Ten en uno de los comentarios sobre la lista de mi querido coblogueador. Sin embargo, han pasado algo más de dos años desde entonces, y nuevas series han aparecido, viejas series se han olvidado, y las cosas, en definitiva, han cambiado.

Hal y yo comentamos cómo cambiaríamos nuestras listas si tuviéramos que escribirlas ahora, y al parecer él se pensó las cosas mucho más que yo cuando hizo su lista, porque yo cambiaría muchas más de las que él dijo modificaría. (Claro que, según él, Chuck es ahora la mejor serie de la historia, o algo parecido.) Ni qué decir tiene, esto no hizo sino darme una idea para una nueva entrada en Sunny Jhanna, y he estado dándole vueltas a la cuestión desde entonces. ¿Qué diez series escogería ahora como mis favoritas de todos los tiempos? ¿Cómo puedo asegurarme que no me sonrojaré al leerla dentro de dos años? ¿Es Chuck tan buena como dice Hal y tendré que rehacer esta lista después de verla?

Como Halagan señaló en nuestra discusión, parece que estamos emocionados con las series que hemos visto más recientemente, que lo que estamos siguiendo ahora mismo genera tal entusiasmo que empaña el recuerdo de lo que vimos hace años; y creo que tiene razón. (El ejemplo perfecto: la nueva V.) ¿Cómo hacer, pues, un Top Ten que sobreviva el paso del tiempo?

Tras mucho cavilar (bueno, no tanto), se me ocurrió que la solución estaba clara: este Top Ten debería ser como el resto de mis listas de favoritos; o sea, contar con más de diez entradas. Halagan siempre me critica por hacerlo, pero creo que es la solución perfecta. Sin embargo, no voy a hacer una lista kilométrica, sino que voy a poner varias categorías para prepararme para la decisión final. Dicho de otro modo, que voy a pensar en voz alta, a ver qué es lo que pasa.

Mis 3 comedias favoritas
Scrubs
Friends
Futurama

Mis 3 dramas favoritos
The X-Files
Angel
Lost

Las 3 series que sigo en la actualidad que más me entusiasman
V
Lost
Scrubs

Mis 3 series de animación favoritas
Futurama
Slayers
The Simpsons

Las 3 series que recuerdo con más cariño por diversas razones
The A Team
Knight Rider
Tales from the Crypt

Las 3 series cuyos episodios sueltos podría ver mil veces
The X-Files
Scrubs
Futurama

Dicho todo esto, y si trato de tener en cuenta una miríada de aspectos como la calidad de los guiones y de las actuaciones, lo interesantes que me pueden parecer las historias tanto de las temporadas en general como de cada episodio en particular, la opinión que me merecen los personajes protagonistas, la cantidad de veces que podría ver los distintos episodios sin cansarme, los valores de producción (o como se diga production values en español), y demás apartados técnicos pero también subjetivos, creo que mi lista final de series favoritas sería:

1. The X-Files
2. Scrubs
3. Lost
4. Angel
5. Friends

Me limito sólo a cinco para que Hal no gruña demasiado, pero debo señalar que, de esas cinco, hay dos que deberían llevar un asterisco. La primera es Lost, porque ya veremos cómo acaba; y la segunda es Friends, porque confieso que sólo he visto las cinco primeras temporadas, o cinco y media como mucho. Scrubs ha terminado con la octava temporada, aunque va a haber una novena que es una especie de spin-off y que, aunque no la he visto, me cuesta pensar en ella como parte de la serie original dado el cambio de planteamiento y personajes. En cuanto a Angel, ha bajado de su original primer puesto al cuarto, y creo que es el tiempo que ha pasado entre listas lo que ha provocado este cambio. Si mal no recuerdo, acababa de ver la serie completa cuando hice mi primera lista, y creo que ahora tengo más perspectiva para juzgar, pese a que sigo pensando que es una serie excepcional. Sin embargo, ver las nueve temporadas de The X-Files hace un par de años me hizo recordar la altísima calidad de todos y cada uno de los episodios de esta serie (o de casi todos), y cómo la dinámica relación entre Mulder y Scully es de lo mejor que se ha hecho en televisión. Por lo demás, todas estas series excepto Lost aparecían en mi lista original, aunque en distintos puestos (The X-Files en el quinto, Scrubs en el séptimo, Angel en el primero, y Friends en el sexto), pero no deja de ser curioso que sólo haya mantenido dos de las cinco primeras de mi lista original (adiós a Smallville, Futurama y Buffy). ¿Acaso tendría que ampliar mi lista de cinco a diez? Supongo que podría hacerlo, pero no quiero abusar de vuestra paciencia, así que os cedo la palabra, a ver qué decís.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Period Jessica

If Easy Virtue felt more like a play than an actual movie it was because it was based on a play by Noel Coward, and while it wasn't great, I am partial to anything starring Jessica Biel and I therefore liked it. However, I can definitely see the story working better on a stage than on film.

In this period piece, Jessica Biel's character, Larita Whittaker, is an American car racer that marries a young British guy who takes her back to England to introduce her to his snob family. You can imagine the conflict: she is low/middle class, they are upper class; she is a working girl, they sit idly in their big mansion and play tennis; she is American, they are British. It is certainly a one-trick pony, but the movie is short enough that it doesn't get too repetitive.

I thought Jessica Biel did a good job, but Colin Firth and Kristin Scott Thomas steal the show as the in-laws, and that's all I will say because I don't want to spoil anything. Everything else in the movie is okay: not great, not bad, so I am not going to say you must watch this film, because you don't really have to. However, if you're in the mood for an old-fashioned screwball comedy, then by all means rent this movie and find out how easy Jessica's virtue is.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Hez

Después de ver la abominable primera temporada de Hex, le escribí un email a mi querido Halagan poniendo a caldo la serie. Cuando terminé de quejarme, me di cuenta de que tal vez nuestros queridos lectores estarían interesados en mis muy subjetivas impresiones al respecto, y como esto de escribir a diario en el blog conlleva tratar de sacarle el máximo partido posible a todo lo que se me ocurre, aquí tenéis reproducidos mis comentarios sobre la joyita. Un aviso, antes de leer: esta diatriba contiene spoilers masivos, algo que normalmente no hacemos en Sunny Jhanna. Sin embargo, y dada la calidad de esta excreción televisiva, supongo que no os molestará demasiado. Ahí vamos.

Hex
es una serie británica que duró dos temporadas, y que se podría resumir como “Buffy con sexo”. Sin embargo, eso la hace sonar mucho, mucho, mucho –pero mucho- mejor de lo que realmente es. Como ya he dicho, la serie duró dos temporadas, pero la forma en que la han sacado a la venta en los USA es un poco extraña. Al parecer, la primera temporada son cinco episodios –seis, si contamos las dos partes del primero independientemente-, y la segunda son quince, pero en “The Complete First Season” que yo me compré hay nueve episodios, diez si contamos el primero como dos. En los primeros cinco –o seis- capítulos, conocemos a Cassie y a Thelma, dos estudiantes de arte en una bonita universidad británica de esas de edificios góticos y tal. En los dos o tres primeros episodios, Cassie descubre un jarrón que, al mezclarse con su sangre, le otorga ciertos poderes mágicos, principalmente telekinesis. A partir de ahí, la pobre Cassie empieza a experimentar una serie de flashbacks que la llevan a descubrir que es descendiente de un linaje de brujas, y que hay un ángel caído cerca que quiere usarla para concebir un hijo que traerá con su nacimiento doscientos demonios a este plano de existencia.

Cassie es insegura, le gusta un chico que no le hace caso, y su compañera de cuarto es una lesbiana punk que la palma en el segundo episodio pero regresa como fantasma que sólo Cassie puede ver. Al final del quinto/sexto episodio, Cassie está embarazada, cortesía del ángel caído Azazeal (que no hace otra cosa más que estar plantado en distintos lugares, mirando al horizonte), y parece que el mundo tiene los días contados.

Estos primeros cinco/seis episodios no están mal del todo, pero son lentísimos, redundantes, y de lo más expositivos que te puedas imaginar. Estos problemas no hacen más que agravarse episodio tras episodio, y cuando la segunda temporada empieza (en el episodio 7 de esta colección), dichos problemas se multiplican y destruyen la serie por completo. Para empezar, hay cambios en el reparto que jamás se reconocen. El chico que a Cassie le gustaba es sustituido por otro que se le parece físicamente, y de pronto dicho personaje deja de tener relevancia alguna en la serie. No se explica por qué, simplemente pasa a un segundo plano. Lo mismo pasa con una chica del mismo grupo de estudiantes: es reemplazada por otra de quien ni siquiera sabemos el nombre. Pero eso no es lo peor, no. Lo peor es que, por un lado, personajes que empiezan a ganar relevancia –Leon, por ejemplo-, cambian COMPLETAMENTE de personalidad para encajar en el molde que se necesita. Así, el machito insoportable y dominante se convierte de pronto en un tipo inseguro y amable así, por las buenas. O la profesora enrollada y superguay se ve, de pronto, aquejada por una extraña enfermedad que la convierte en un cadáver ambulante. O un nuevo profesor que aparece de la nada y se convierte casi, casi en el protagonista –aunque debería decir antagonista- de la noche a la mañana. O que personajes como la misma Cassie actúen por exigencias del guión, y no porque lo que dicen o hacen tenga sentido. O que toda la trama relacionada con los antepasados de Cassie, los espíritus que la acechan, y los fantasmas del pasado que ve, simplemente DESAPARECE POR COMPLETO para concentrarse en otros asuntos. Aunque esa afirmación no es del todo correcta, ya que en lo que la serie se centra a partir del capítulo séptimo es en un nuevo personaje tipo Buffy (caza demonios, la chica), que aparece de la nada y se convierte de hecho en la nueva protagonista de la serie, así, sin más. Pero no hay de qué preocuparse: Cassie muere súbitamente sin venir a cuento, con lo que el cambio de foco está de pronto “justificado”. Desgraciadamente, la personalidad de esta nueva protagonista, Ella, cambia de un episodio a otro según lo requiere el guión, y dichos cambios son tan drásticos y tan repentinos que no tienen sentido. ¿Plantar semillas de futuras tramas y cambios? ¿Para qué, si podemos cambiar las cosas de un plumazo al principio de cada episodio, y al que no le guste que se aguante? Para cuando el décimo capítulo termina, nadie reconocería esta serie, que, si al principio era ya mediocre, ahora es un auténtico esperpento. Creo que iré a McKay’s a venderla, y aunque me den cinco o seis dólares por ella, me desharé de esta porquería que me niego sea vista en mi estantería. Al menos me dará para comprarme un libro, y dado que el pack me costó 14.95, tampoco perderé demasiado dinero con el trueque.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Retro Cuteness

Everyone panned Planet 51, but I liked it. I liked the retro sci-fi flavor, even if it didn't make a lot of sense some of the time. I mean, I'll buy that this alien planet is in their fifties, and that their 50s look a lot like the fifties in the United States, sure, but why do they have cutting edge technology that is way ahead of the 50s while, at the same time, they don't seem to be more advanced than the US was in the 50s? They have black and white TVs but flying cars, music on vinyl discs but massive underground secret labs. It's not really consistent.

Other than that, I loved the character designs, and everything in this alien world looked great (and round), from buildings to clothes to cars and movie theaters. It was all very cartoony, and the retro sci-fi flavor I mentioned earlier really worked for me. The voice acting was good too, and even though the animation was not as good as Pixar's, it was still good. (Not the short film they showed before the movie, though --that one was rather on the lame side.)

Something I didn't realize until I read the credits is that this movie was made by a Spanish team. When the credits rolled, I noticed those names were Spanish and, sure enough, a "An Antena 3 production" or coproduction sign showed up, and I was floored. And yet for some reason, the movie opened in the States before it did in Spain. Weird.

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie for what it was, and I think you guys would like it to, so check it out if you have a chance. And did I mention Jessica Biel plays the hot neighbor? Or maybe I just thought she was hot because she was voiced by Jessica Biel. Oh, well...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Batalla en las montañas

Después de mucho tiempo de inactividad, este verano sólo participé en un torneo y quedé tan mal que no lo puse por estas tierras. Tras el fiasco, decidí volver a apuntarme al clásico campeonato de Warhammer en Alcoy confiando en hacerlo mejor, y debo decir que mis míticos elfos oscuros hicieron un papel realmente bueno.

La primera partida fue contra un ejercito Bretoniano, esos que son todo caballería medieval y bloques de campesinos armados con lanzas y arcos. Fue bastante bien, y no por que yo luchase bien, sino más bien porque mi rival falló todo lo que podía fallar más allá de la lógica y las estadísticas. Ni qué decir tiene, el pobre fue masacrado por una cantidad ingente de flechas.

La segunda partida se complicó un poco. Mi rival dirigía a los temibles guerreros del caos, gente semihumana semidemonio con caballería pesada y magos que son también guerreros. Lo bueno es que son pocas unidades y caras; lo malo es que son jodidas de matar, pues son muy duras al tener mucha magia. Recurriendo a una técnica probada, lo inflé a disparos también, ya que combatir de frente era un suicidio. Al mismo tiempo, estuve huyendo por toda la mesa hasta que me pilló y me destrozó dos unidades bastantes caras, pero aún así salí victorioso. Fue una victoria marginal, pero una victoria a fin de cuentas.

Por último, me enfrenté a un imperial. Estos son los que mezclan caballerías pesadas con armas de pólvora y tanques que funcionan con vapor y algún que otro cañón. La partida empezó mal, y esta vez al que dispararon con cañones y mosquetes fue a mí. Me volaron bastante gente de mi ejército, pero con mis unidades voladoras y caballerías ligeras en el segundo turno tenía aniquilado casi todos sus tiradores. Las caballerías pesadas me costó un montón matarlas, y el tanque a vapor directamente lo ignoré porque no podía matarlo, dado que necesitaba cosas que pegaran con mucha fuerza y mi ejército es más de esconderse y disparar
flechas. Volví pues a masacrar a mi rival, y para mi sorpresa gané el campeonato, porque los de la mesa uno decidieron empatar. Como veis en la foto, el premio fue un SpaceHulk edición limitada, un gran juego que han reeditado.