Book Review: Legion by Brandon Sanderson

Legion
by Brandon Sanderson

I love Brandon Sanderson’s work.
The Mistborn series remains one of my favorite fantasy series ever.  The man has a fantastic imagination, extraordinary attention to detail, and a great ability to get those things on paper in a truly entertaining way.  In all the books of his I’ve read, it’s his magic systems that stand out.  He goes to great lengths to explain how and why the magic in his universes work, to the point they are almost as much science as they are magic.  Everything is explained, and it all makes sense in the context of the world.

I know Sanderson as a writer of Epic Fantasy novels.  His books tell truly epic stories, some getting up into the 1000+ page territory.  Knowing that, I was surprised when I found out that his next release would be an 80 something page novella.  It seemed like such a huge departure from his earlier stuff, but I’m happy to say that the man doesn’t need 1000+ pages to tell a great story, as it turns out he doesn’t even need 100.

Legion tells the story of one Stephen Leeds, a man with the unique ability to have multiple personae.  These hallucinations, he refers to them as his aspects, are real in the sense that he can see them and have conversations with them, even though no one else can.  There are quite a few of them, and each has its own specialty.  It’s kind of a tough concept to grasp, but Sanderson does a great job of explaining it all in such a few number of pages.  It’s a very quick read, but it left me very much wanting more.  I would definitely call this project a success.

Book Review: Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War

Jaina Proudmoore: Tides of War
by Christie Golden

The latest of the World of Warcraft novels, and one of my favorite so far.  With the release of the Cataclysm expansion, Blizzard had indicated that the story of the game would be focusing more on the Alliance vs. Horde aspect, considering that the Wrath of the Lich King storyline had the Alliance and Horde working together.  This book really takes that Horde vs. Alliance dynamic and runs with it.  Garrosh Hellscream is the current Warchief of the Horde, and he couldn’t be more different from the previous leader Thrall.  Thrall had been working towards peace with the Alliance with his friend and counterpart on the other side, Jaina Proudmoore.  They had made great strides towards that peace, but Thrall decided to step down as leader of the Horde and follow his shamanic birthright following The Sundering of Azeroth and the return of Deathwing.  Thrall appointed Garrosh Hellscream as the new Warchief, hoping that Garrosh would continue to strive for peace.  Garrosh is a much more militant personality however, and he is not satisfied with the current shaky peace between the two factions.  He wants nothing less than to kick the Alliance off the continent of Kalimdor and to eventually conquer the Eastern Kingdoms.  To this end he uses some very brutal tactics.  Lady Jaina Proudmoore, long known as a moderate and a the loudest voice for peace between the Horde and Alliance is on the receiving end, as is her city of Theramore.  What we see is a complete shift in Jaina’s views and beliefs.  She knows that peace is no longer an option with Garrosh Hellscream as leader of the Horde, and she prepares herself for war.

This complete turnaround is one of the great things about World of Warcraft.  Many MMO worlds are static and unchanging.  If an area of the world has snow for example, it will always have snow, there are no seasons.  Blizzard decided to shake that up with the release of the Cataclysm expansion.  They completely changed many of the zones in the original continents, and added lots of new content.  Everything old was new again, and it was great to explore places and find new things, places that for many people they have visited for years.  The changes Blizzard brings to the world don’t just manifest themselves in the game, novels like this one are an important part as well.
One of the reasons I enjoy the World of Warcraft novels so much is that while playing the game, I can actually visit the places in the book.  When a building or area is described, I don’t have to try to build a picture in my head, it is already there because I have seen and been in that building.  It helps to make Azeroth feel like a living and breathing place.  With the Mists of Pandaria expansion set for release on September 25th, this book did a great job of getting me excited for the all changes we’ll be seeing in the near future.

I need your assistance!!

Starting this site, my first thought was that I want it to be a community place. I want your opinions!!
First off, what does everyone think so far? How’m I doin’?
Second and more immediate, I’m starting another new recurring article chronically all the obscure movies I’ve been watching since, well, all my life. I need a title for the series. I’m thinking something along the lines of “Movies You May Have Missed”.
I like that, it captures the essence of the series, and the “May Have” leaves it open enough for people to say, “I didn’t miss this, I saw that ages ago!”, but it just doesn’t feel “poppy” or “catchy” enough.
So, help a fella out and give me your thoughts on what I should call it in the comments section!!

Thanks bunches,
Christopher Lee

Nerd-Base's 10 Best Remakes/Reboots Part 1

Every site’s gotta have at least ONE Top 10 list these days, right?
Here’s a list of the 10 best movie re-makes (that I could think of, it’s by no means definitive, but  then again, what is? Everyone’s got an opinion). I hesitate to use the new term “Re-Boot”. I think that term is something that some Hollywood PR guy cooked up because of all the press and social ire towards the incredible lack of individuality being pumped out of the big studio movie making machines. I think for something to be called a Re-Boot, it needs to come out within the same decade as the last iteration of its license.
Either way, here’s a list of our favorite unoriginal films!

10) Death Race (2008)

Okay, before anyone starts going “What?! Have you even SEEN the original? They’re barely the same movie!!”, I know. I know. The changes between the two are vast. However, let’s be honest here, the original “Death Race 2000” (1975), like many Corman films, was remarkably cheesy and the only REAL draw to it was the point system (which they sort of hit on in the remake) and the funky cars.

The thing about this movie, and what most of its naysayers aren’t aware of, is that it’s not really a re-make or a re-boot, per se. It’s actually meant as a prequel to “Death Race 2000”. As a prequel, it fits rather nicely. I mean, of course there are inconsistencies, but they can be forgiven, if for no other reason than, are you REALLY going to take a movie about souped up death-cars that seriously? Bottom line is, this movie is an enjoyable action fest with all the bloody-explodey-gritty-boom-boom that makes such guilty pleasures in the genre so memorable.

9) I Am Legend (2007)

“Omega Man” (1971) is one of my all-time favorite films. I’m not saying it’s a great film, but it’s up there in a collection of movies that since I first saw it when I was about 6 years old, I can and have watched multiple times without getting tired of. 
Vincent Price is one of my favorite actors, always has been. Perhaps because there was just something about him that reminded me a lot of a really classy version of my grandfather. Imagine my surprise when I found out while pouring through a video store at about 10 years old that he had made an earlier version of that story called “The Last Man on Earth” (1964)!

So yes, early on, one of my favorite tales of post-apocalyptic earth was the film versions of Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend”. Having finally gotten around to reading the source material for the films in my teens, I discovered that the movies I loved had little similarity to the book. The closest being “The Last Man on Earth”, the screenplay of which, I had found out, was originally written by Matheson. Alas, after many rewrites by the studio and production companies, he had his name taken off.

That leads us to 2007.
I’m not one of those big “Oh “f” Wil Smith” guys. I honestly quite like his movies. He’s really not a bad actor. Regardless, with the huge amount of stinker remakes coming out of Hollywood at the time, I was understandably cynical about this movie. It was probably the last time I allowed myself to act in such a way as to dismiss a film before seeing it.
“I Am Legend” is not the book. It’s neither “Omega Man” or “Last Man On Earth”. Rather it is a combining of all three while standing on its own. The beginning of the film, like the beginning of “Omega Man”, really captures the loneliness of the Smith’s Robert Neville. The flashback sequences, telling the story of how the world came to be in such a state, harkens back to “Last Man on Earth”. Lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, the ending…no, not the weird “butterfly glass”, explodey ending that was on the theatrical release, but the original, cut, ending of the movie, was a very big nod to the novel. Neville is made to realize that the creatures are attacking him because in actuality, HE is the monster. They’re defending themselves from him and Neville finally recognizes it. As the character in the book says before he dies, “[I am] a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am legend”.

8) Fright Night (2011)
“Oh you’re so cool Brewster!”

Say that to anyone who is or was a fan of 80’s horror films and they’ll know almost immediately where it’s from. At the absolute least, they’ll remember that squeaky voice of none other than Stephen Geoffreys’ “Evil Ed”.
“Fright Night” is a film that could only have been made when it was. In the mid-80’s, the larger corporations were starting to gobble up network TV, and the reign of the late-night horror host was coming to an end. The Horror Host shows as some younger readers may not know, where a big staple of late-night TV for about 20 years from the 60’s through the 80’s. The likes of Vampira, Zacherlie, Svengoolie, and of course, Elvira would host showings of (mostly low-budget) horror movies during the late hours on local tv stations as a pull to try to grab viewers that would normally have turned off the tube hours ago. Unfortunately, with the coming of the infomercial, stations found they could make more money from hours-long advertisers/ments, than something cheap just placed there to run more commercials.
The original “Fright Night” was definitely a film for its time, so you can imagine the hesitance when a re-make was announced. Nobody knew what kind of angle they could take. All the general public saw was another studio trying to cash in on a beloved favorite. Even if that’s what it was at its base, it was so much more.

“Fright Night” 2011, was just enough of a separation from the original to really let it stand on its own and feel fresh to new audiences while not feeling like an “insult” to the fans or the 80’s film.
David Tennant (who was brilliantly cast here. The producers knew who they had and really marketed him to the Doctor Who fans as this was his first big American film after coming off his run as the 10th Doctor) plays the spirit of the original “Peter Vincent” so well, replacing the washed up Horror Host with a washed up Vegas magician. Anton Yelchin’s “Charley Brewster” (which honestly surprised me since I’d only seen/noticed him as the garble-accent-mouthed Chekov in 2009’s “Star Trek”) was fantastic and very much like the original. Who now could you possibly get to play the geeky-weird friend other than “McLovin” himself? Well, I will say this, Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s “Ed” is definitely NOT as memorable as Geoffreys’ was, but good nonetheless. Lastly, Colin Farrell’s “Jerry Dandrige”? Creepy. Creepy in an almost realistic, unstoppable serial killer/predator way. Smart, manipulative, and brutal.
If you haven’t seen it yet, and you need a good Friday night creeper, I recommend it.

7) Invasion of the Body Snatchers

I’m not going to do a big write-up on this one. I’m just going to say that this remake of the classic 1956 film of the same name is not as well-known, not because it’s bad by any means, but rather because it’s so damned creepy that nobody wants to think about it anymore after seeing it. Seriously, maybe these are “spoiler-y”, but if you haven’t seen this movie in the past 30 years, I can hardly be blamed, but I’m going to leave you with just these two short clips to watch:
Scene 1:

Scene 2:

Okay? Now try to go to sleep. Can’t do it? Don’t worry, neither can I. *shudder*

6) Dawn of the Dead (2004)

The original “Dawn of the Dead” is, in the opinion of many, one of the greatest zombie films ever made. It is one of my personal favorites. As you can imagine, to this day, there are many, MANY who still complain about the changes made to the feel and especially to the zombies in Zack Snyder’s 2004 remake. I am not one of them.
This remake is only similar in very few ways to the orignal. The setting, (some of) the characters, and the undead are pretty much all that is kept. I’m okay with that. Why? Because I’ll always have my collection of all the different release versions of the original to watch. Also, if you take some “artistic license” and do it well, any changes can be made acceptable. This movie is most definitely acceptable. The human emotion and danger is captured very well. The theme that Romero puts forth in his films, that the “humans” can pose a bigger threat than the monsters is well engrained in this film. Think about it, if everyone just gave a moments thought to the consequence of their actions, they could have survived comfortably in that mall. But really, when does that ever happen in real life? Some concepts in this were brilliantly conceived. Having the other survivor so close, but so far, the “pregnancy”, the greedy power-mad mall workers, all led to the drama and thrill of this movie to the point where the zombies were almost…almost an afterthought.
If you happen to be one of those that have dismissed this movie and/or refuse to watch it because you’re so upset about what it does to the original, you really must get over that hurdle and allow yourself to enjoy this great entry into the genre.

Go check out part 2 covering 5-1 here!!!!

WTF Did I Just Watch!? #4

 

Wow….
Let me just start by letting you know that when I started this series, I didn’t intend to post so many so fast. Alas, it seems that people like them, so as long as I keep getting them sent my way, for the time being, I’ll share them with you!

This is going to be a two-fer. Thematically, they’re very similar. They’re also both definitely strange.
The first one, the Birthday Party, was sent to me by my good friend and Rocky Horror Legend, Larry Viezel. I don’t think anything needs to be said aside from “Just watch”. The second one, as you can imagine, was a straight link off the first.

To be honest, if “Spider-Man 3” were more like that, I think it would have been HUGE.
This next video isn’t anywhere NEAR as strange, it’s just odd mostly due to the facts that a) They’re at a pool? b) Tell me that Iron Man doesn’t look weird with his huge head?

…and there you go!

 

WTF Did I Just Watch!? #3

Oof….I just don’t even know where to begin. 

So, I hesitated to share this on the site, which I’m trying to keep relatively “family friendly” in content, but I knew, once I started down the road of this particular post series, the lines would begin to blur very fast, and eventually, all weird, twisted, roads will lead you here.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you shouldn’t allow me to introduce you to, “Sloaches”. *facepalm*

During the time before youtube, there were few avenues to travel to find the truly weird and bizarre. Whether it be cult & indie films, shorts, or animation. Thankfully, however, I could always count on Spike & Mike to bring wonderous new cartoons to me with their animation festival.

Many, many great well-known cartoons and animators got their start on the Spike & Mike’s circuit (which would travel to art-house movie theaters across the country). Examples:

  • Mike Judge got his start there, “Beavis and Butthead” premiered in the fest,
  • Don Hertzfeld, famous for the Oscar Nominated, “Rejected”
  • Nick Park, creator of “Wallace and Gromit” gained prominence with his short, “Creature Comforts”.
  • Craig McCracken, who’s perhaps best known for the “Powerpuff Girls” and “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends” started out as a festival staple with his fan favorite “No Neck Joe”
  • John Lasseter, “Mr. Pixar” himself, became recognized with his short, “Tin Toy” touring the Spike & Mike’s circuit.

All these great things have come from that festival. But then again, for the more “deviant” minded crowd, there was the festival sub-section, the aptly titled “Sick & Twisted Animation Festival”.

This series of animations was special. Most of them were simply tasteless or crass, but some were downright disturbing. In 1998 we would find that none, NONE, were more so than “Sloaches”.

I will not describe it to you. I don’t even know that I could. It’s creator and “Clayboy” studio practically don’t exist online save for some trademark reports. I
n keeping with the relatively “safe haven” of this site, I will not directly link you to any of the uncensored or full-length “Sloaches” videos. As a matter of fact, I only found ONE short that was “okay” enough to allow me to feel comfortable posting it here.

So, I will first warn you, with the minor exception of this one here, THE “SLOACHES” VIDEOS ARE NOT SAFE FOR WORK AND SHOULD NOT BE VIEWED BY ANYONE UNDER THE AGE OF 18.  If you wish to search out the rest, my conscious is clear, I’ve warned you.
Without further ado, the “Sloaches Humanoids” eat pizza: