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May 28, 2006

X-Men 3: Suprisingly Good

I wasn't expecting much from X-Men: The Last Stand. Goofy title. New director (Brett Ratner) regarded as inferior to the old (Superman Returns' Brian Singer). And, in the trailers, lots and lots and lots and lots of characters running around. I was expecting a mess.

Well, it turned out to be a good mess. There were actual moments of subtlety in the first two movies, not so much in this one. Instead what you get is the scope and scale that the first two movies never had. X-Men was all setup. X2: X-Men United was a bigger flick with real personal consequences. X-Men: The Last Stand leaps ahead of the previous movies' abstract threats -- "We've got to stop this special effects whizbangery!" -- to a massive, public, consequential fight between Magneto's terrorists on the one side and, on the other, the X-Men backing up federal troops. Here's the starkest representation yet in the franchise of the classic comic book characters "sworn to protect a world that fears them."

There's a more complex moral issue driving the story, although the dialogue and direction isn't quite up to carrying the load. Halle Berry is finally given a meaty role and does fine; Hugh Jackman continues to rule; Patrick Stewart finally gets to show some shades of gray; Ian McKellen starts out as a villain you can root for (before he starts killing people left and right). And there's, hands down, the best super-hero slugfest ever committed to film. As my friend Mark pointed out, the movies have never been able to pull off the team versus team fight scenes that comic books have done for decades. The previous X-films' fight scenes were largely one-on-one mixups. This one raises the bar for all future super-team movies.

So I can forgive this movie for not being quite as smart as the last two. This time, spectacle really is substantive. It's fun, it's intense, it's worth seeing.

May 26, 2006

Doctor Who Meets Great Big Sea

Yes, that sounds like bad fan fiction. But it's actually a pretty good fan-made video on YouTube that takes several incarnations of the BBC science fiction series and sets it to GBS's defining song, "Ordinary Day." Not bad, especially if you've seen the old show. And if you haven't seen the new show, currently airing on SciFi, you are missing out on something far better. Shannon and I got our DVD set from Amazon in Canada because we couldn't wait for the U.S. release....

May 25, 2006

Websnark on Fandom

This post is a year and a half old, but it's still genius: webcomics blogger Eric Burns snarks about Entitlement and the Modern Fandom. Substitute any band, TV show or perfume fan group -- yes, perfume fan groups exist, Shannon's a member of one -- for webcomics fan groups, and Burns's insights hold true about excessive identification, the dark side of online communities, and the relationship between creators and the most devoted fans. Warning: crude language.

May 22, 2006

Public Service Announcement

If you're not going over your credit card statements line-by-line, you should be. Last October, we found a couple of Amazon purchases we didn't make. So we changed our credit card number -- but not before someone used my contact info and the old number to pick up a web hosting agreement with Yahoo. It was only live for about five days before being cancelled. Hate to think what was done with that domain. And, of course, we missed it on the following month's statement.

We only found out about it when I received a "renewal notice" from perennial scam artists and FTC targets Domain Registry of America. "Hey!" I say to myself, "I never registered that!" So for possibly the first time in the "company's" existence, DRoA has done something beneficial. Totally by accident, of course.