Sunday, December 6, 2009

Tactical Highlighter #11

I’m doing things a little bit differently this week. After the recommendations, I’m going to have a review of a movie. That’s the primary reason this week’s Tactical Highlighter is a bit late.

It’s more indepth than my mini reviews and the movie I’m covering isn’t terribly obscure. So, let me know if you liked it, or disliked it or just plain didn’t care.

  • My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (LibriVox). Unlike a lot of the stuff I link to, this one is not only safe for kiddies, it’s actually read by a kid. It’s a ten chapter book, and none of the chapters are very long so this might make a fun book for a road trip or bedtime story for a week and a half. I don’t think it will be too annoying for adults either, so even if you don’t have kids, you should check it out.
  • Variant Frequencies’ Fuel Pressure by Dennis Egan. A curious little story about spite and the end of the world.
  • StarShipSofa’s Child of an Ancient City by Tad Williams. StarShipSofa is really an audio magazine, so there’s a lot here you might not find as interesting as the main story. Helpfully, they’ve included the information in the show notes that the story starts at 51:00 minutes in. This story is in the tradition of classic frame stories (such as Arabian Nights). It’s a really phenomenal story. However, if you dislike Arabian Nights, you’ll probably dislike this one.
  • Dunesteef’s His Poisoner by Sean Eads. This is a really intricate and multilayered story that can be enjoyed without getting into the intricacies. I’d love to say more about it, but it would require spoilers and this story is all about the journey.
  • PodCastle’s Marsh Gods by Ann Leckie. I’ve apparently run out of mana for describing these. Let’s just say it involves old gods and very clever little girls.

Now, for this week’s feature presentation:

Mutant Chronicles: A Review

Mutant Chronicles is based on an RPG of the same name. Appropriately, there are a lot of interesting concepts here.

Unfortunately, that’s probably the nicest thing I can say about this movie. It has Ron Perlman, and while normally that would be a plus, in this case, it’s a downside: It proved to me that it was possible to have a Perlman movie I didn’t like.

At first, they seem to want us to believe that Perlman’s character is a man who has more faith and hope than anyone else. However, as the movie progresses they let us see that he has lost the sense of humanity that would be necessary for him to have that faith and hope. What he really has is a desire for glory. That would be interesting if it had not been for horrible pacing and writing.

I think that’s ultimately where most of the problems in this movie come from. The movie tries to play as an ensemble cast, but we are never really given a reason to care about any of the characters.

A character is introduced early on who appears to be there simply so he can be found later on and play a part in the group getting ambushed. One of the ensemble is given a very Nazi air for no discernable reason other than having a minor redemption of a Nazi-like character.

Devon Akoi seems to be in the movie for no better reason than to have her reprise her role as Miho from Sin City. Anna Walton is in the movie to be a critique of blind faith, but at the same time a psuedo love interest for Thomas Jane’s character.

I really could go on and on with that, but I think I’ve covered the character aspects well enough.

There’s a bit of character development via brick bat as well, but it’s really not the worst part of the movie.

The worst part is that so many of the awesome concepts are never brought to any good use at all. The alien artifact was almost certainly not intended to be used for what it accidentally ended up doing, but we’re never given any idea of what it was intended for. Thomas Jane’s character almost had some drive, but aside from being the most “in the moment,” human character, we’re never given any indication of what that might be.

The world is drawn up into four corporations instead of nations (like the capitalistic version of 1984), but we don’t see how that has changed society in any real measure. War is still conducted in a more or less conventional way, even though dividing the world into four companies would probably have a change on that as well.

There are mild steampunk elements, but nothing is really done with them either.

My last thought on this: I’ve heard a lot of complaints about the quality of the special effects on this movie. I disagree. I really don’t know what people are complaining about on this one. The special effects are pretty decent and would be completely unnoticeable if the movie itself wasn’t so bad.

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