Movie Review: Godzilla vs Kong

The entire selling point of this movie was the showdown between King Kong and Godzilla.  It certainly worked on me since I have enjoyed watching these titans not just in their recent movies but in movies throughout the years.  As an extra bonus, Mechgodzilla was thrown into the fray.  The fighting delivered and was clearly the highlight of the movie.  It was delivered in a compelling way—almost like a three round fight and was fun to watch.  Unfortunately, that was about the only redeemable aspect of the movie.

 

It seemed as if the writers and director had this great concept for a movie—namely a clash between Kong and Godzilla, but they couldn’t figure out a way to deliver this.  Everything else about the movie was so utterly flawed.  For one thing, the human characters were really terrible, specifically the trio that was on Godzilla’s side—Madison, Josh, and Bernie.  These three characters were so poorly written it was laughable.  Dr. Nathan Lind, played by Alexander Skarsgard, comes off as a dope.  He’s a geologist with no apparent flight or military experience, but was chosen to captain this incredibly advanced vessel to go into the middle of the earth—which seemed to be a complete ripoff of Journey to the Center of the Earth.

 

The science in this movie was ridiculous.  The most absurd part was that the above mentioned trio get stuck in this vehicle that was able to get from Florida to Hong Kong in about two seconds in some sort of underground tunnel that wasn’t even explained.  I can suspend my disbelief enough that a company could build a robotic version of Godzilla, but this was too much.  Then there was the absurdity of the gravity inversion theory they tried to push and other eye rolling science.  The plot was also utterly illogical and filled with holes.  The entire premise of the hollow earth and why Kong needed to get there to avoid Godzilla was laughable.

 

If you want some good fight scenes with heavy hitting monsters, this movie will deliver for you.  If you want more than that, you will be disappointed.

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams by Stephen King

I’ve read several short story collections from Stephen King.  The Bazaar of Bad Dreams does not quite rank up with the better ones.  While there are quality short stories in this collection, there isn’t the consistent quality that I would typically expect from King.  The stories that tend to fall flat were the ones that he chose to use present tense narrative.  King has traditionally kept his narratives in past tense, and it feels like he’s chasing a trend here instead of leading the pact.  Examples of stories that I didn’t enjoy so much were “Ur” and “Herman Wouk is Still Alive”.

 

There were some gems in this collection as well.  I really enjoyed “Blockade Billy”, a baseball mystery story.  “Bad Little Kid” was a terrific story about this mean red-headed kid who ruins a man’s life, leading him to murder the little bastard, then being on the hook for murder.  “Obits” had a fascinating concept about an internet writer who has the power to kill people by writing obituaries about them.  “Drunken Fireworks” was a fun story about this drunken mother and son duo having a fireworks arms race against a wealthy family who lives across the lake from them.  There were definitely more good than bad stories but there were more subpar ones than I am used to from a King collection.  Still, there’s enough good in here that you will want to read this collection.

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

 

The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Vampire Slaying is set in South Carolina in the early nineties.  The main characters are a group of housewives whose lives are pretty dull and who form a book club specializing in true crime and novels featuring serial killers.  Their mundane world changes when—you guessed it based on the novel’s title—a vampire moves into the neighborhood.  Except, this isn’t a vampire in the traditional sense.  I think monster would be a more apt description.  Regardless, when James Harris moves into their neighborhood, everything changes for Patricia Campbell and her book club as they now have a monster in their midst, one that is fully accepted by their families and the community because of the prosperity he brings.  The tone goes from very light in the early going, to dark and sinister as the book moves along and some truly horrific things happen.

 

This is the second book I’ve read from Grady Hendrix.  Although the novels were thematically different, as well as markedly different in tone, style, and voice, what they share in common is general awesomeness.  This was a captivating story, well written, and deeply engrossing.  The idea of a novel whose main characters are southern housewives from the nineties is not the sort of thing I would have thought would appeal to me but Grady Hendrix makes it work.  The characters were well written and were easy to get invested it.  Well, at least the female characters were.  The male characters were complete and utter morons, which was my only real negative about this book, because I thought the men in this novel were over the top in their idiocy.  This is a novel that worked on many different levels and I would strongly recommend reading it.  You can buy your copy by clicking this link.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones

In The Only Good Indians, four Blackfeet in their youth kill a pregnant female elk.  Years later, the elk comes back for revenge in a quest to destroy each of their lives.  There were some things I liked about this novel, and other things I didn’t like so much.  Starting off with the good, I thought the narrative voice sounded fresh and authentic.  I guess it helps that Stephen Graham Jones is Blackfeet and was able to use his background to give the novel that authenticity in the narration.  The dialogue, in particular, was quite good.  The story had good drama and horror elements, and moved at a brisk pace.

 

The things that I didn’t like so much was the storytelling viewpoint.  I didn’t care for the present tense usage, but I especially didn’t care for the use of second person point of view, which should be banned forever from fiction.  It was especially annoying when the author intermingled them so frequently that it was hard to tell whose viewpoint the story was in.  There were also some serious logic gaps and plot holes in the story.  I also felt the action scenes could have been described better.

 

All that said, I enjoyed the story.  In particular, the characterization was very strong.  Even though I had some misgivings and it was a little rough around the edges, this is a novel that I would recommend.

Movie Review: Wonder Woman 84

Wonder Woman 84 wasn’t a terrible movie, but it certainly wasn’t a good movie.  To me the question I can’t figure out is who greenlit this movie.  After coming off a tremendously successful movie and one of the best in the DC franchise, they settled on a plot of a guy who has a wish to turn himself into this wishstone, to grant wishes to as many people as he can without any particular rhyme or reason for doing so, and without a coherent explanation of what was in it for him?  And he destroys the world in the process.  Who are these people who thought this was a good idea?  They took all of the fan excitement and anticipation of the first movie and wasted it on this?  It’s little wonder that DC plays a distant second fiddle to the Marvel franchise.

 

There were elements that I liked about the movie.  For instance, they had talented actors cast in the lead roles, but there were gigantic plot holes and believability issues in the movie, such as Wonder Woman on the fly thinking she could make things invisible because when she was a child, she was taught to make a cup invisible, and then, poof, she makes a fighter jet invisible.  Oh, and they just manage to walk up to this jet and fly off on it, so apparently fighter jets are completely unguarded and unprotected in the world of this movie, and a World War 1 pilot has absolutely no issue figuring out how to fly a modern military jet.  I’m sure they are exactly the same thing.  I could give you a dozen examples of this type of ridiculousness in the movie.  And where was the eighties music and references?  The movie is Wonder Woman 84 but other than a group of people breakdancing, you would have no idea it was set in the eighties.  I wouldn’t say to avoid watching this movie, but keep your expectations low.

Fifth Ward: Good Company by Dale Lucas

Each novel in this series by Dale Lucas is wonderfully written, shows great imagination, and stands alone.  Raise your hand if you can say that about other fantasy series.  Missing are dragons and the fate of the world in the balance.  Not there is anything wrong with that.   But I love how the author has narrowed the scope and stakes, yet has still created a wonderfully compelling read and a story world that I would return to over and over again.  These books are just enjoyable to read.

 

I am not sure if this ends the series or not, but there still seems to be more stories that could be told in this world.  In this novel, Rem and Torval must transport a famous bandit called the Red Raven to the kingdom where he is wanted in order to claim their substantial reward.  But nothing is at seems when the Red Raven appears to have an intimate relationship with the woman who is supposed to marry the Duke who has authorized the capture of the Red Raven.  Rem and Torval now find themselves in a struggle that has wider ramifications and have to decide on what side they stand on.

 

There is lots of good action and intrigue in this novel.  There is also strong characterization as you go throughout the cast of characters, something that is not easy to achieve beyond a few of the major characters, but the author skillfully navigates this.  The action builds to a strong climax, and the ending is satisfying.  If you enjoy fantasy and haven’t yet checked out Dale Lucas, then you should.