Tag Archives: Tor Books

An Unexpected Journey through “Hobbit” art

I’m a big fan of Tor Books‘ blog – there’s always something interesting to read there, be it from their own publishing list or from the wider world of speculative fiction and nerd culture.  Their annual “Steampunk Week” being a particular favourite, which will come as no surprise to anybody who knows me.

As we count down to our eagerly awaited return to Middle Earth, Tor Books’ Irene Gallo examines the work of various artists inspired by Tolkien‘s work over the years…

 

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David Cronenberg on “Batman”, Christopher Nolan – handbags at dawn!

 

Oh, internet hive mind – must you be so thin-skinned?

“And Wolverine’s an asshat, too!”

David Cronenberg has been promoting his current rumination on post-economic meltdown NYC, “Cosmopolis“, and managed to upset a great many bloggers, forum trolls and click baiters with his off-hand dismissal of “The Dark Knight Rises“, Christopher Nolan and superhero cinema in general:

“But a superhero movie, by definition, you know, it’s comic book. It’s for kids. It’s adolescent in its core. That has always been its appeal, and I think people who are saying, you know, Dark Knight Rises is, you know, supreme cinema art, I don’t think they know what the f**k they’re talking about.”  

Cart upturned, apples everywhere.  But he’s got a point.  As Danny Bowes’ excellent piece over at the Tor Books blog observes, this isn’t a case of some arthouse know-nothing aesthete critiquing superhero flicks and genre film from a position of arrogance and indifference, it’s one of cinema’s most pre-eminent and skilled navigators of genre convention and subversion making a concise and cogent argument about a significant director and the most lucrative films being made by the major studios today.

I’m a Christopher Nolan fan, and moreover I love his Batman movies, but I wouldn’t make any huge claim for their relevance beyond being entertaining examples of mainstream entertainment with some interesting underpinnings.   That’s why I found some of the forum negativity towards “The Avengers” and Marc Webb‘s “The Amazing Spider-Man” somewhat baffling,  particularly when it was coming from the self-appointed Nolan Defense Force, for whom their blithely unaware leader’s every bodily emission is a sacred text to be studied and treasured.

At the level that Christopher Nolan, Joss Whedon, Marc Webb and co are working – with major studios, on comic book flicks, with £250 million budgets and all the toys that their tent-pole flicks can command – there’s very little chance that their movies are ever going to be allowed to be anything other than entertaining popcorn flicks with most of the rough edges snipped away.  Any opportunity to challenge the assumptions of the audience or make observations about the psyche of the viewer are going to be a very distant second to building a massive thrill ride which gets butts on cinema seats, sells soundtracks on iTunes and gets the truly devoted to buy all the related tie-in products in the eyes of the studio.

Simply put, Cronenberg has always been in a different business to the guys who bet on comic book characters to bring in the bucks and keep their jobs safe.  Whilst it might be nice to imagine what he might do with a character like DC’s John Constantine (astute cinephiles reading this blog will doubtless remember the fine work that Cronenberg turned in with his graphic novel adaptation, “A History of Violence”, so it’s not as if he’s so against the artistic form as a whole), I suspect it’s a safe bet that we won’t see him directing that “Guardians of the Galaxy” flick in our collective lifetime.

And, hey – if you think that Cronenberg’s some highfalutin snob who doesn’t have a sense of humour, get your ocular accentuation receptacles around this compilation of kills from “Jason X” (Reader discretion is advised – contains gore and Jason Voorhees smoking fools).

Yes, that is his Cronenberginess getting a right old smoting at the grisly, undead hands of Camp Crystal Lake‘s brightest son.  It fair brings a tear to my eye, so it does…

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Hands off my Steampunk, Prada.

Trust the fashion world to annoy me.

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A rogue click on this image on the Tor Books blog had me thinking that we would be receiving a big-budget Steampunk flick with Gary Oldman, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Bell and Garrett Hedlund doing their best, pseudo-Victorian poses on the big screen.

Alas, we are denied.

This is part of fashion house Prada‘s new Menswear campaign for the Autumn, which is taking serious stylistic cues from all things Steamy, Punky and ever so slightly nerdy.  It has to be said that it is the latter thing which annoys me the most, as high fashion tends to eschew the geeky in preference to perpetrating the pursuit of glacial cool above all else, which is perhaps the least interesting thing that I can conceive of.   The eternal pursuit of cool = the absolute pursuit of humourless self-defeat, mark my aphorisms.

That said, this shot of Jamie Bell and Gary Oldman makes me yearn for some high-end, next-gen, Bizarro World incarnation of hyper-nerdy PC real-time strategy game, “Command and Conquer“, with these fine thesps hamming it up in a Steampunk World War scenario.  Make it so, current “C & C” devs!

In the name of Mecha Queen Victoria – attack!

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Epic Fantasy Avengers Assemble!

The Heraldic Shield of Awesome Sauce

Nifty shield courtesy of the genius nerds at Fantasy Shields.com

Inspired by a post over at the Tor Books blog, which posits a line-up for a Fantasy equivalent of “The Avengers“, I couldn’t let a day go by without pledging my team of Ye Olde Awesome Fictional Nerds into the fray…

To lead this band of brothers, sisters and brigands?

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We’re going to need magic – that’s a given.  We’re also going to need some one with quick wit, nifty sartorial skills and every team has to have one member liable to go off the deep end and indulge their dark side every so often.  Severus Snape is the complete package.  Just make sure that he hasn’t worked his mojo on the team’s +5 to Health Mead beverages and we’ll be fine.  Think of him as Nick Fury, sans eye patch but replete with devastating sarcasm and lank locks of doom.

Sorcery taken care of – next, we’ll be needing some brute strength, Tank-style.

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Because, you know, Hellboy is Teh Awesomez and is more than a match for his Hulkness.  Also, somebody with his chequered past, supernatural Rolodex is and possessed of The Right Hand of Doom is going to be a cat that you want to have on side when the intergalactic/dimensional cannon fodder start showing up en masse.

If we’ve got magic and damage on lock down, we should be looking at having a sneaky, acrobatic, multi-tasking assassin on side.  Preferably with cute, pointy ears.

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That’s Felicia Day as Tallis in the web series for EA’s otherwise unloved Dragon Age 2.  Elf representation covered, quick wits aplenty and she could probably dash out a nifty Elven ballad or two around the team camp fire on a cold night in the forest.

If we’re basing our team around the Avengers template, I’m going to have to find a Tony Stark/arcane technology specialist from somewhere. And given my abiding love for the video games, we’re going to kill two ancient beasts with  one stone.

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Yep, that’s the Alchemist class from “Torchlight” – who’s as near as dammit to being both Iron Man and Black Widow in the same package.  At least when I’m playing, that is.  Multi-tasking?  Me?  On a school night, yet?  But of course…

We’re going to need somebody who can handle a bow and arrow and take down fools with almost disdainful aplomb…

Yep, Neytiri from “Avatar”, you’ll do nicely (and as some would argue that “Avatar” was more fantasy than SF, there’s certainly a case to be made…)

I confess, I’m slightly at a loss for a Captain America analogue in my uncanny squadron of fantastic misfits – any ideas will be gratefully accepted…

(Not So) Stealth Edit!

After going away and thinking about it for a while – I’m giving the Cap role in my coterie of weird heroes to….

Gabriel Belmont, conflicted warrior hero of the recent “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” revamp – he’s got the combat thing down pat and can brood for days.  Armour? Check.  Strong moral convictions? After a fashion.  He’s probably got some kind of shield to employ that I’ve yet to find, down some back alley in the game.  Yep, he’s in.

As Garrett points out in the comments, I’m still in need of a good fictional Thor analogue – and suggests Ares, from Greek mythology, but also reinvented for various Marvel titles in the expanded “Avengers” family.

He’s a massively overpowered warrior from antiquity thrust into the modern era, able to summon ancient weaponry from his Mythological Ancestral home, battle like a maniac and has a history with the wider “Avengers” continuity.

Yep, he’s in…

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