Read/Watchlist

spy-x-family-768x662-1Mostly, it’s been The Shadow novels. However, there are others.

– The Continental Op – Dashiell Hammett

– Star Man’s Son – Andre Norton, which is a post-apocalyptic scifi-adventure

– Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett

Watchlist:

– Spy x Family is incredibly cute, wholesome, funny, exciting, well-paced, well-written, well-characterized, well-plotted, and overall just awesome. One of the reasons I never could get into American comics in a big way is that the art style is always uneven or just plain ugly. Manga-style art just looks so much better to my eye!

– Diablo (2015) – a nu-Western starring Scott Eastwood, who really should have asked his pops for some help. It’s one of those “I have one clever idea, one idea should be enough to swing a movie on,” and “I want it to be dramatic and meaningful,” type movies that only has a budget of around five dollars (4.95$ of which went to Scott’s hairdresser), and which desperately needed someone who knew what they were actually doing to write the script (to make it meaningful) and direct it (to make it dramatic.) It’s basically unwatchable, and I only skipped to the end because the synopsis spoiled the twist and I was curious to see how it ended. Shame, that.

Caroline Furlong considers the element of darkness

–in a very well put-together Substack column discussing The Shadow and The Dark Knight, their similarities, their literary and mythological underpinnings, and their (when you line them up and compare them, after all) quite evident differences. Of course, it’s never a matter of one being inferior to the other or one being superior.

Of course not….

via TheShadowcastKnows twitter (aka Raz0rfist)

Nope! (book tag)

So these are kind of fun, especially when you haven’t got any reviews coming down the pipeline currently and need content for your bots devoted readers.

NOPE! Trope: a trope that makes you go NOPE.

Hm. This is going to be either, “Fantasy novel that is entirely a travelogue of named characters going from Point A to Point B, where at Point B they will prevent and/or cause the end of the world.” See: Abhorsen and Black Sun Rising. See this viciously mocked in: A Tough Guide to Fantasyland and Dark Lord of Derkholm.

Or, “If you kill the alien queen, all of the worker/fighter bugs just stop moving/fighting you and die.” Dude….no. Just No. Everyone likes to point at Starship Troopers for inventing the “worker bugs fight, queen bug rules” concept, but they’re also ignoring one of the most badass scenes in the novel, which is that Sergeant Zim takes a queen hostage and then blows up the underground nest as he escapes–which, while it forms a climactic scene, still isn’t the end of the war. The war never ends until all the troops come home, after all….

But that would require them to read a book printed before the Current Day, so.

NOPE! Recommendation: a book recommendation that is constantly pushed at you, that you simply refuse to read.

Eh. I don’t waste brain space on stuff I haven’t read and don’t intend to.

The Three-Body Problem, I guess. It just looks boring.

NOPE! Cliche: a cliche or writing pet peeve that always makes you roll your eyes.

– The big guy is slow and dumb, and also aggressive, which justifies the hero picking a fight with him, and then winning because heroes win fights, right? Right? Right?

– Evil Christians go out of their way to be intolerant and evil to the poor magical heroine (it’s generally always a heroine), sometimes to the point of leaguing up with the *actual* forces of evil, Just Because They’re Evil Christians Who Are Intolerant. Dude, your imagination. Use it. Creativity. Use it. Originality: it’s a good thing. Use it. (See: The Bear and the Nightengale.)

NOPE! Love interest: the love interest that’s not worthy of being one.

Much as I love Gordon Dickson’s old-school mil-scifi, he did have some slight difficulties in writing heroines to match his larger than life heroes, and by the time he gets around to writing an out-and-out superhuman, Donal Graeme….poor Donal ends up matched with the dumbest blonde in the solar system. Anea of Kultis is so incredibly dense and utterly useless it’s apparent that the only way anyone would want her is if she was genetically designed specifically for them….which Anea was–but not for Donal. So….?

Oh! And any version of Dresden Files shipping that isn’t Harry/Murphy.

(sobs)

NOPE! Villain: a villain you would hate to cross.

Since we’re on the subject of the Dresden Files: Gentleman John Marcone, of course. Marcone is a scary bad guy, because he knows exactly what he wants to do, knows how far he will have to go to get it done, and in full knowledge of these things and their consequences, commits to going the distance. Sometimes this aim isn’t all bad–sometimes it means making sure that prostitution is safe, victimless, and takes places with all parties of legal age. Sometimes, it means shooting two men in the head and shipping them and the third man across the continent in a sealed cattle car to send a message.

Darth Vader! You do not want to cross Vader, either, unless you happen to be able to breathe through your gills.

NOPE! Author: an author you had a bad experience reading for and have decided to quit.

Genevieve Cogman. She writes really good fanfiction! She has a way with dry, droll, British-auntie humor. She had a bright idea for an amazing adventure fantasy series. She’s terrible at writing adventure fantasy.

Michael Moorcock. He had a bright idea, once upon a time, and promising talent. Unfortunately, he combined it with a sordid mind and a lack of respect for his audiences and genre. Respect  goes two ways; liking goes two ways. If you neither respect a genre enough to play by its conventions and rules, nor like it enough to pay it homage as you subvert and play with its conventions, the genre and it’s audience aren’t going to like you.

QuikReview: The Star Kings – Edmund Hamilton

This book is Space Opera–as written by one of the Old Masters, first of the breed, foremost among those that led the way and titan to those that followed–at its finest. I mean, his nickname was “World Wrecker,” you can’t get better than that. There’s a different adventure every 1.5 chapters, a space princess, a scantily-clad space-concubine, grizzled space-captains, battleships, cruisers, phantoms, cunning or treacherous advisors, quarrelsome barons, and grim and gallant fighting men. There’s the lurking menace of the Clouded Worlds’ rebel fanatics and the legendary, unknowable, unutterably fearsome threat of The Disruptor that keeps even their cynical leader in line. There’s also, to make sense of it all, a present-day (1949) protagonist who has had his consciousness transferred into the body of a star-Prince–and thence suddenly into the teeth of the action itself. But what can a man of Earth–our Earth–do when the stars themselves are at stake?

Aaaaand that’s basically it. If you feel you need to somehow know more about this book, then you ought to read it.

It’s a book that reads incredibly quickly and hits every single pulp fiction trope that it possibly can without changing genres (and that even includes the crashed ship being attacked by hostile natives….if there had been space for even a single chapter more there would have been some sort of sword-against-sword action going on.) –but yet there’s a consummate level of skill involved that carries it all off.

Partly, it’s the prose, which sells the sensawunda that can only be achieved by an active imagination, a yearning for stars yet-unreached, deep knowledge of the past that informs the actual doings and behaviors of mankind; and a nimble pen that doesn’t flinch from a little bit of mauve from time to time (see: scantily-clad space concubine.) The other part is that Hamilton actually did know his business, and, preposterous though the plot is, makes it proceed logically from the actions of intelligent and motivated actors, one of which is often–but not always–our hero.

A third and crucial part is that our hero is a hero. Starting out from an ex-soldier with a yearning for more than his old accounting job will offer him, and thrust abruptly into the whirl of galactic politics and treachery, he accounts himself well, never forgetting that he owes a debt to the true Zarth Arn, whose face he wears and whose place he has taken. Also, another tribute to Hamilton’s prowess, although John Gordon is an outsider with only a cursory knowledge of the situation, never once does anyone to sit down and explain things to him (us) in simple language. While he’s no moron, he’s always scrambling to achieve an in-scene, in-person goal–to keep his cover, to bluff the enemy, to not break his morganatic wife’s heart–and he’s doing it with limited resources and high stakes.

The other characters suffer from the fact that this is a pulp novel at heart. They’re colorful, they’re placed to provide maximum interest, and they all give the impression that, given more time to navel-gaze, they could be turned into interesting persons indeed, rather than what is simply given them by their descriptors–space-princess, stalwart captain, sneaky advisor, cynical tyrant.

The one character who does do particularly well in this is, oddly enough, the cynical space-tyrant who leads the fanatics of the (?) Clouded Worlds. Shorr Kan is an odd duck of an antagonist, professing a fanatical hatred against the Empire that he in no ways feels; his own desire is for naked power alone. He’s cunning enough to seed the elitest ranks of the Empire with his own men, assassinate the Emperor and frame his own son for it, cold-blooded enough to use a brain scan device that, on uncovering neural connections, breaks them irreparably….and yet human enough to immediately switch the device off when it reveals that he’s got the wrong man. Mind you, he’s also dumb enough to let his suddenly-ultracooperative prisoner take his girlfriend along on a harebrained scheme that couldn’t possibly go wrong, so…perhaps his defeat was more inevitable than it seemed. Apparently he gets brought back for the sequel, so.

Rated: man once dreamed of the stars!

ReReview: Face of a Fugitive (1959)

face-of-a-fugitive-movie-posterSo this is a 1959 Western starring Fred MacMurray and Not-Rhonda Fleming (She has red hair.) Also it has a young but extremely toothy James Coburn as “that young punk who sneers a lot.”

This one was really great, mostly because the plot is very simple. A happens, and therefore B. However, C. And therefore, D. And so on, very logically leading on to (depending on the genre): the farmboy becoming king, the Death Star blowing up, or finding the sword of Martin the Warrior.

In this case: MacMurray is a genial bank robber en route to trial and jail, but actually just about to escape. However, overenthusiastic help from his kid brother ends with two people dead–the brother, and the escorting deputy. Therefore, with murder on the rap sheet, MacMurray has no choice other than to run. However, getting out of town is delayed: all strangers are being detained at the pass until the wanted posters with the fugitive’s picture arrive. And therefore, MacMurray….well, watch the movie. Most of the subsequent “and therefores” are a direct result of MacMurray’s character just being that much of a swell, decent guy. He’s the kind of hero that small children and horses trust on sight. He’s the kind of man who can tuck a little girl into bed, or go toe-to-toe with the toughest guy in town; can talk some sense into a proud young feller’s head, or save the day in a gunfight.

In fact, MacMurray’s hero is so competent, the final fight has to put him at a significant handicap to maintain any sort of tension. This was something that felt like a total gimick at first, but on thought was really quite brilliant. Without the injury, the audience–trusting the guy they’ve seen outthink, outmaneuver, and outfight all parties so far–is going to simply impatiently wait for him to clear up this stupid little fight, and then get back to something that does provide a problem. With it, MacMurray is pinned and the gunfight becomes the center of attention. Kudos to the writer.

The one downside of the movie is that its ending (post-gunfight) is almost cruelly abrupt. Give itfacefugcutting another minute and give the man a line or two to explain himself, at least! Well, nobody’s perfect.

There’s also a really amusing (well, to me, at least) scene where MacMurray’s character is doing the decent thing and cutting James Coburn out of the barbed wire he’s tangled in. At least, until Coburn’s crazy boss and the rest of the riders come storming up, at which point MacMurray books it.

10 wirecutters out of 10.

The Shadow #143 – The Fifth Napoleon

shadow_magazine_vol_1_143So I didn’t even guess that this one was a Theodore Tinsley book until I looked it up on the wiki; before that I had it filed as “well, this was a weird throwback.” The Shadow’s agents are almost completely absent; plot elements jar against the neat and tidy New York that nearly seven years (of publication history) has assured us The Shadow’s efforts have produced; and The Shadow himself (seems) weirdly absent in his own story. Tinsley does a much better job at approximating Gibson’s voice….this time it’s the construction that made me scratch my head a little.

The bulk of the plot concerns a chess match between the Four Napoleons Plus Their Mysterious Leader, and the charismatic and vicious mob boss Tiger Marsh. The Shadow himself is visible primarily only in the disguise as “Lifer” Stone, a criminal released from Sing Sing….IDK, somehow….in order to….IDK, do something? Except Joe Cardona bumbles that, which means that the ersatz Lifer doesn’t get to….IDK, do something else? That he was planning to do? I’m still not sure why Lifer was intended to do, anyway; he’s described as a killer, but killers are a dime a dozen for either side anyway, so…

Meanwhile, the Napoleons are trying to, I dunno, snarfle some money or something and Tiger Marsh is trying to get it from them. And there’s a Judge and his beautiful but dimwitted daughter and then there’s her fiance, who is an editor of The Classic. Or something. The four Napoleons are big-time racketeers, but they are completely cowed by the Fifth, their merciless leader, who also runs a weirdly group of agents, to boot. (Meanwhile, other novels have assured us that not only is being a crime lord a pretty good death sentence in New York these days, thugs are getting weirdly thin on the ground due to The Shadow’s policy of offering them a choice between jail and a one-way ticket to a tropical island.*) Then one of the Napoleons ends up dead and The Shadow delivers a packet of highly incriminating papers to Judge Sherman, except that Judge Sherman’s daughter (did we mention she’s a moron?) is promptly kidnapped by Tiger Marsh!

There’s also a sequence wherein The Shadow infiltrates the Fifth Napoleon’s high-rise lair (in fact we find out that it is only one of many); and honestly I should have twigged it at this moment. A good author sets the stakes and then lets a scenario play out to its finish. A great author sets the stakes, lets the scene play out, and lets the natural end result of the scenario raise or lower them. An uncertain author, or just a poor one, sets the stakes and then keeps attempting to raise them artificially, by injecting fake and unnecessary difficulties into the scene.

The first time I ever twigged onto this was in reading Ice Station by Matthew Reilly. There’s a pool of hungry orcas! There’s a kid on a sagging beam above them! Her fingers are slipping! The beam is on fire! The hero crawls out and grabs her even as her fingers fail and she falls! But ’tis OK, he grabbed on to her hood! BUT OH NOES THE BUTTONS OF HER HOOD START TO POP  OFF ONE BY ONE BY ONE!

Now, that was an extreme example and nothing in this book rises remotely to that level…but in the better books, it doesn’t happen at all. The focus stays exactly where it needs to, without zigging off in unnecessary directions, and without unneeded, artificial, unwanted drama. You want to raise stakes, do it at the end of the chapter when the hero bursts into the room, not five times in five paragraphs during the bit while he’s just sneaking up to the door.

(Also The Shadow escapes by diving off a high-rise balcony onto a nearby, lower rooftop pool and badly scares a sunbathing blonde in the process, which is just clumsy, really.)

So, anyhow, with some digressions but with a decent amount of aplomb and a great deal of headlong energy, the plot continues with the cat-and-mousing of Tiger Marsh and the Napoleons. By this time, between Tiger, mysterious gifts of highly incriminating and specific evidence, and the doggedness of Joe Cardona, the Napoleons are definitely on the run and Lifer Stone is rather mysteriously absent. But the tables have not finished revolving yet, and neither has the trick floor in the second, back-up lair. (Revolving floors and trap doors are so prevalent in fiction….well, fiction of a certain genre…that you half-expect to see them in real life. But they’re not practical in the slightest! Think about all the extra effort it would take to make an actual revolving floor that slid down and then rotated away and then clicked back up. Think about how hard it would be to maintain that mechanism! Labor costs for the repair guys! Parts sourcing! Build times! Project secrecy!)

Rated: Anyhow, it’s a good 7/10, and what color are The Shadow’s eyes anyway?

*not kidding about the tropical island. It’s for the potentially-reformable hard cases and they’re kept under the watchful eye of sociologist Slade Farrow.

Movie Review: Tenet (2020) – this genre doesn’t exist

44e7e33d7f2cbdde288a10c719ec6afdPeople who like words, or who are writers, or who have spent too much time in pursuit of an English degree, are generally aware of the existence of palindromes, words or phrases which are the same spelled backwards or forwards. “Tenet,” or “pull-up,” or 02/02/2020, or “do geese see God.” Slightly nerdier people will be aware of the Sator Square, a historical palindrome phrase which can be read in multiple directions and has either a mystical or a vaguely Christian meaning. The word “tenet” also means “principle,” or “doctrine,” or a belief maintained to be true and followed. (Wow, so are layers of meaning here in a simple title? Woww! That’s incredible! Is your mind blown yet?…no?…uh…why not?) Well, maybe if someone in this movie started discussing theistic and/or electrical geese….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAScience fiction readers are aware of the fact that there are not, and never have been, a “science fiction” movie genre. This is because science fiction, at its core, is a genre of wonder, imagination, intelligence, and creativity, attributes which writers of screenplays, producers of movies, directors, or actors, do not have.

But Aliens! But, Terminator! But Star Wars! But, but, but Blade Runner! These movies, alas, prove my thesis: that there isn’t an actual sci-fi genre to film, just other genres dressed up in fancier clothing and with different names thrown in. Aliens? It’s a Western. The Cavalry has been trapped at the scene of the massacre. The Injuns are wearing green rubber masks. Terminator? It’s a straight-up slasher thriller with a few special effects thrown in. (If Cameron had wanted to be an auteur, he would have left out the reveal of the Terminator as an actual cyborg and just let later generations argue over whether or not Kyle Reese was insane….at the least that would have spared us the sequels.) Blade Runner? Guys, it’s a color film noir with anxiety about how Asia was taking over the world. Star Wars is jidai geki in space.

tenet-posters-2-600x889-1So what does this have to do with Tenet? It’s a terrible scifi movie, that’s what. But it’s a pretty good contemporary action-thriller. Christopher Nolan’s reach exceeds his grasp, which is too bad, because his grasp also exceeds his imagination in this case. Not a single element of the time-travel makes sense. Not one. Not even in-universe. Not even when you try to think about how it could work, the way it does, instead of how it should work, the way it would when you apply those same exact rules and limitations to it. The whole point of mentioning the Grandfather Paradox is figuring out how to work around it, morons: kill him after your father has been conceived; or take a DNA test to find that Grandma was cheating; or become your own grandfather and live out the stable time loop. The whole point of a timeywimey device means that your first wave is a super sneaky recon squad, ri–oh. Oh, okay then.

I haven’t and won’t attempt to summarize the plot of this movie, because a) puzzlement, b) extreme rage will result. This is genuinely a movie that rewards turning your brain off and watching the show. Is that what Christopher Nolan thought he was making? Probably not, but who knows. He might even think he was making a scifi movie.

But! The action is great, the explosions are more than adequately firey, the locations are exotic, lush, and filmed in Technicolor; and there are several setpieces which genuinely appear to have been filmed live.  The cast is uniformly very easy on the eyes, and, crucially, the characters are rounded, sympathetic, charismatic, and understandable. The characters are what make this movie, because let me tell you, no one is in it for the plot, including Christopher Nolan.

tenet-movie-promotional-photo-posters-26There’s Kat, the extremely tall but still fragile loving mother–and abused wife–of an evil man. There’s Neil, who knows a hell of a lot more than he says, and who saves the world. There’s…uh, let’s see, there’s that Indian lady. There’s even the bad guy, who, while still being an evil and unsympathetic person, shows enough recognizable human emotion that he’s, yes, an actual character with actual thoughts and actual motivations–not just a convenient hate sink for the audience. (Also: after beating a traitor to death with a gold bar, he checks his fitbit. “Ninety-eight. Not bad for such exertion.”)

Then you have the protagonist, who….

….Well, he’s poorly served by the movie, in a methane-sniffing moment deciding to name him “Protagonist;” there’s really no buildup to support the grand end reveal (that he is the mastermind behind the secret organization protecting the world); there’s zero chemistry between him and The Really Tall Damsel In Distress; and….

washington_pattinson_tenetBut, small idiocies aside….he’s a cool, capable, active hero. You don’t see many of those these days. He should be celebrated for being a cool hero guy who does good, heroic things. And y’know, he saves the world and the girl to boot. That counts as doing a pretty darned good job, these days.

Rated: I’m waiting for Fimbulwinter, myself….

Review: The Shadow Magazine – The Pooltex Tangle

shadow_magazine_vol_1_135(There’s a motorcycle chase in this book, in case you wanted to know that up front.)

So, number 135 in the list is The Pooltex Tangle, and it’s another one by Theodore Tinsley. He’s got a slightly better grasp on how to handle the reins in a Gibsonesque way, but he’s still writing in the “adventure” genre rather than “pulp.” His narration is more breathless, the characters are familiar in form and face, but not–quite–function (yes, I mean Harry Vincent, no, don’t worry, I’ll get to it) and the plot glissades over events at high speed– but in a way that requests ones’ tolerance rather than forces it. There’s also rather a lot of Getting From Point A to Point B.

So the plot deals with the theft of a train-car load valuable, nay, priceless Pooltex fabric–heatproof and acidproof–which has been sold to Unnamed Warlike Country A. This theft involves the murder of a young brakeman we soon learn to be Anthony Cardona, favored nephew of Acting Inspector Joe Cardona. Meanwhile, Lamont Cranston bumps into one of the manufacturers of Pooltex, who is in New York, at the Cobalt Club, and looking unaccountably nervous.

The plot is rather spread out over the rest of the book due to the unavoidable bustling about from Point A to Point B that the “adventure” genre always requires but never seems really able to explain. Still, there are a few flourishes, such as: one of the manufacturers, Pool, has a two-timing fiancee who is actually in love with a blackmailing playboy and gets caught by his loyal sidekick but to no avail; meanwhile, said playboy has previously blackmailed the other manufacturer (Wallace)’s daughter with fake nude photos and an interesting tangle is produced when he ends up dead about three quarters of the way through the novel.

There’s also the way The Shadow’s agents are used. Clyde Burke, Harry Vincent, and Moe Shrevenitz all pop up for about a chapter or so each and get a moment or two in the limelight.  I will take a moment to say that indeed, Harry does get to pull a damsel out of distress without immediately falling on his face. (She immediately gets back into trouble, leaving him behind, but never mind.) Burke gets the best of it, though, managing to locate the freighter standing by to receive the stolen goods, and escaping execution by freight crane with only his wits and hiding a razorblade in his mouth.

Walter Gibson (the main The Shadow writer) has a fairly distinctive style and a way of tagging places and people with descriptions. Clyde Burke is slight but wiry, star reporter of the Classic. Joe Cardona is stocky, swarthy, and gruff, the ace of the New York Police force. Lamont Cranston is a millionaire globe-trotter with a masklike, hawklike countenance who speaks in calm, leisurely tones. The Shadow’s sanctum is lit by a bluish lamp, and for a while he had a habit of laughing before he left it (seriously), letting ghoulish echoes sob back and die into silence. Tinsley’s version of this is to reuse the word “muscular” a lot.

Tinsley also tends to emphasize the interpersonal relationships in a way Gibson wouldn’t or didn’t. Cardona and Commissioner Weston are definitely not close personal friends; and Cardona’s acquaintance with Lamont Cranston is one that occurs only in the context of crimes that rouse his leisurely interest and bring him along in Weston’s wake. Characters don’t need to be deeply personally connected to have interesting rapport or chemistry; and they can work with or against each other, and play off one another without being personal friends or vicious enemies. Sure, a connection can help add to a story at times–but not always, and generally speaking, not when this is #135/300+ and it’s a completely stand-alone story.

Additionally, thinking back: I don’t think there actually was a gun or a fistfight in this book. There’s an awful lot of car-, train-, motorcycle-, etc-chases, generally predicated on, as usual, Getting From Point A to Point B.

So, what’s the point of this review? I guess it’s to damn this book with faint praise, because it’s actually pretty decent.

Rated: I don’t care how fireproof it is, if you’re standing in a blast furnace when it’s turned on you are toast.

Or maybe roast.

The Batman (2022) Movie Review

batman_ver3So much as it pains me to have paid money to do so, I went and watched The Batman. The first and most important things about this movie is that it walks a very fine line and doesn’t fall off it; and that it might actually have been written by an adult human being with a normal amount of intelligence.

That line? The ability to balance inherently ridiculous concepts (and resultant dialogue) with serious execution and sensibilities.

Does this movie “hate Batman?” Not so that I noticed; and for some of the things it did that are objectionable, you might as well criticize the comics themselves for (JUST KILL THE MASS MURDERING COMPLETELY IRREDEEMABLE PSYCHOPATHS ALREADY. JUST DO IT. Now bring back the electric chair treatment for their henchmen. There you go, that’s ALL OF YOUR RECURRING PROBLEMS SOLVED. Gahhhhhh.) Does this movie hate traditional heroism, masculinity, virtue, and the rule of law? Not really–it may even have been written by someone who actually knows what these things are. Is this movie painfully political and woke? No, and without extending too much of the benefit of the doubt, it might actually have a subtle criticism of the concept. More on this later.

Good stuff: The acting, the casting, the cinematography, and the action are all good, you’ve heard it before and in great detail; not arguing there. The semi-climactic fight in the Iceberg Lounge especially was really good, because it showcases “tactician Batman” along with “hand-to-hand combat tank Batman.” I also noticed some of the usual “We hate 100-pound women beating up stuntmen like it’s possible” suspects cheering Selina in this movie, because….of course they would, the choreography is neat and she’s wearing skin-tight latex.

There’s also the playing up of the terror factor to the Batman identity, which I liked immensely and which was stolen wholesale from The Shadow, but never mind.

So the line that everyone is going to point to is Selina accusing “White privileged people” of lacking sympathy for anyone who doesn’t share their particular circumstances. What this movie doesn’t explicitly do is point out that Selina entirely lacks sympathy for anyone who doesn’t share her own particular circumstances. What’s more, several people–the (useless) black lady mayor and the unhinged murdering pathetic psychopath–accuse Bruce Wayne of….well….hm. Privilege, and doing nothing with it. The fact that they’re completely and utterly wrong and the fact that they’re allowing their assumptions, jealousy, and lack of insight to dictate how they react to Bruce, doesn’t get explicitly called out to them…but it is demonstrated in the movie itself. The mayor lady comes across as entitled and stupid; the unhinged pathetic psychopath is an unhinged pathetic psychopath. Bruce Wayne is a man who puts his own life on the line to help others, personally, face-to-face, and it has an actual impact* on people.

(Also, try misappropriating Bat-funds. See where that gets you, HAH.)

(*’cause, y’know….punching…)

I will also give the movie this: while it does have lame dialogue, they did not jar me so far out of enjoyment that I was never able to get back in.

Oh! Also, Bats and Gordon had great buddy-cop chemistry. Also, Catwoman had great chemistry. Just, y’know, in general.

Middle stuff: Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne does pale in the shadow of his Batman, but that’s okay. The evolution of Batman from the darkness to the hero who leads people out of the darkness hasn’t quite begun, and it hasn’t included Bruce yet.

Snerk stuff: Batman walking heavily and loudly AND SLOWLY out of the shadows to impressive music gets rather old, rather fast….as, unfortunately, does the directors’ addiction to showing Batman standing still in the middle of a room doing nothing. (Even the Batmobile gets the same slow, to-music entrance, heh.)

Bad stuff: The last hour of the movie was clunky as hell. There’s no getting around that. Other than the fact that it’s not integrated into the overall plot well, there’s also the shift in tone from the villains being powerful and dangerous, but untouchable, to villains being pathetic…and untouchable. And there’s also the shift in genre from “I desperately want people to call this noir,” to “we’re doing it, we’re blowing it up, WOOO” and these things just don’t gel well together.

For a movie that celebrates Batman’s detective ability….half of Batman’s detective work in this movie consists of walking up to people and asking them if they did X….whereupon they will happily admit to X, reveal all the details about X, and offer to sign the affidavit about X. The other half can be summed up with the phrase “bat deductions.” So….

Rating: I will probably watch this movie again and enjoy it, but I sure as hell will not pay money to do so.

My notes:

bat-deductions

Hope his rabies vax is UTD.

They art-decorated the everliving HELL out of Wayne Manor.

Gordon you plugged the LITERAL THUMB drive into YOUR WORK COMPUTER?

OK motorcycles, I dig it.

CLOSE YOUR FRIDGE

Selina dun fell for tall dark and handsome. Already. Pwah.

Damn. Dat girl got some SLINK.

WOW these people want to spill the beans.

“Alfred, I don’t need your cufflinks.” = best line in the movie.

$10K? 10 measly K? REALLY?

“You think Penguin is the rat?” = close second.

DUKES OF HAZZARD RANDOM RAMP

BAT DEDUCTIONS

Shirtless RP is rather disturbing.

WELL WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OF A HUGE CHARITABLE FUND WITH NO OVERSIGHT?!?!!!!!

DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN DUN

YOU HAD BETTER BE UP TO DATE ON YOUR RABIES SHOT MAN

500 followers???

Really? Really? Things were THAT bad at the orphanage? Is this the Victorian era? You couldn’t import some Catholic nuns or something to run it?

I feel a crowbar would have done just as well there.

All those guys are 150% too slim.

Belated read/watchlist

Watchlist:

The Paradine Case, a Hitchcock film starring Gregory Peck, Alida Valli, Ann Todd, and what’s-his-face. I planned on doing a full write-up of this, because there’s an interesting line to draw opposite The Tattered Dress in how its female characters are and act (passive courage is not the same thing as passivity, basically,) but enough time has passed that it might not happen.

– International Crime (1937), starring Rod la Rocque as Lamont Cranston, alias The Shadow. Hollywood has a thing it’s been doing for a very long time, which is to take something that’s great in and of itself and very distinctive, gut it, and lurch into camera wearing the skinsuit. The blobs of blood and visera and the obvious poor fit, and the gigantic lapses of logic and meaning that ensue tend to draw the eye a lot more than the intended motions of whatever the puppet or the puppetmaster was wanting to do.
Having said all that, if you removed the name “Lamont Cranston,” from this movie and replaced it with another name…it still wouldn’t be very good overall, but it’s….it never means to insult the audience; in fact it has a story that it wants to tell and is enthusiastic about it; it has actors who rather relish their opportunity to sling snide comments and even half-witty ones; and it has a plot that’s, y’know, mysterious and solved by feet-on-the-pavement-time rather than, say, people walking up to the hero and telling him things.

– A review of The Batman will follow shortly.

Readlist:

– Still reading The Shadow pulps. They’re still excellent.