I’ve been watching and reading a few things recently that I haven’t had a chance to do proper reviews of, but wanted to make some quick notes on. It’s media consumption in that absent-minded way that I think is quite easy to do – but I like to take at least a moment or two to reflect on what I’ve enjoyed, or haven’t.
- Jessica Jones: Is the story of a superhero with a troubled past, battling with the trauma of a previous attack, and standing up to the villain who assaulted her. It started out brilliantly. A great noire feel, an interesting set of characters, and a good storyline. I particularly liked the way it dealt with a whole set of gender issues. I stopped watching around episode eleven of thirteen though. Partially because I have a low thresh-hold for violence. Partially because it felt as though at points the plot was being driven more by accidents and mistakes, than by character development. Having said that, it’s received rave reviews – it may be your cup of tea.
- Wizard of Aus: The premise of this SBS show is simple, but fun – what if a wizard tried to emigrate to those seedy student suburbs in North Melbourne? It’s nice to see new Australian TV that’s interesting. This one has a lot of promise, at least in the premise. It manages to be mildly entertaining throughout, but it opts for a series of easy jokes through inversions, rather than thinking about what character development might mean. It’s a reasonable choice to make, I suppose, particularly in a TV show with a total of around ninety minutes viewing time across six episodes.
- Endless nights: It may not be the quintessential example of ‘peak Guardian‘, but I think the article ‘So you’d like to get into highbrow comics. Here’s where to start‘ is certainly a contender. Fortunately, though, it led me to Endless nights, which I tremendously enjoyed. It’s an excellent stand-alone collection of stories by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by several authors. It was enough to whet the appetite, and make me want to read the Sandman series soon.
- The Final Empire: I enjoyed Brandon Sanderson’s novel, the first in his Mistborn trilogy. The story is set in a fantasy universe, where a dark lord has ruled for a thousand years – but a small group of rebels has an audacious plan to change that. The writing wasn’t always brilliant, and at times it felt clunky – but it was enough to carry the story. And as I’m becoming increasingly aware, having a story that feels largely coherent and moves quickly over the pace of more than six hundred pages is no small accomplishment. Certainly not something to be taken for granted. Sanderson also sits in what might be an ‘uncanny valley’ of social analysis – he’s aware that it exists, and doesn’t simply ignore it, like some fantasy writers might. His story has a clear underclass, who are cowed into submission by a ruling class and a belief system that centres on the evil overlord. It’s fascinating, and if at times it feels like Sanderson’s social story-telling is simplistic, it’s still an interesting set of questions. This one isn’t LotR, but it’s not too shabby either. Worth a read.