Must-Watch SFF: Orcs!

  • by Gitabushi

Orcs-2011

With my daughter home for the summer, I end up actually watching visual entertainment.  We browse Amazon Prime for movies that include topics I can use to highlight conservative principles and the values I want them to learn.

But we also encounter movies and television shows I’ve never heard of.

This one just looked stupid.  I had to watch the trailer to see just how stupid it was.

Surprise! It wasn’t stupid.

It was actually a very enjoyable movie, with a solid premise, good writing and decent acting.

It’s always hard for me to do a review without giving away spoilers, so I tend to focus on descriptions of what the author (or movie, in this case) does well, what it doesn’t do well, and my reaction to various extremely-generally-described elements.

I’m probably going to have to do that again. But bear with me. And see the movie, if you can (free on Amazon Prime).

The premise of this movie is that orcs are real, but they’ve been bottled up (suspended animation? Dimensional portal?) in a subterranean realm since mythical times.  They nearly obtained their release decades ago, but were stopped by chance.  Recent activities have opened their path to the surface Earth again, and the orcs are now making their best attempt to destroy or subjugate the human race.

What this movie is not:

A comedy, although the trailer makes it seem like one (the canoe seen isn’t as funny in context as it is in the trailer).  But it is funny at times.

A campy movie, although it has some camp.  The movie escalates in seriousness and in the stakes as it runs, as a good story should.

A professional movie, although the special effects were better than I would have expected.  But they were clearly on a tight budget to get things done.

A goad Bad movie.  Because it simply isn’t a Bad Movie.  Okay, okay, it could be seen as a bad movie due to its production values and lack of brand-name actors.  But if you can suspend your disbelief for the cheesier aspects, honestly: the stronger elements of the movie make it a good movie.  Not a great movie, but a good one.

What this movie is:

A very well-written, decently well-directed, decently-well acted movie.  It has a decent premise, and takes the premise seriously.  The actors over-act at times to fill space.  The moments they try to conceal their limited budget are obvious (“thousands” of orcs marching by seems likely to be a half-dozen running in a circle with obvious sound effects), but done as well as you can expect.  The overall impact is better than most of the fanfic movies I’ve seen on YouTube.  It drew me in, made me care about the outcome.  The climax battle wasn’t over as quickly as you might expect, heightening the sense of dread from the orcs’ overwhelming force.  The writing, plot, and acting made me care about the actors.  The characters had depth (the GS-9 rivalry was spot on), and the main character grew/changed throughout the story in a plausible manner.

A fairly good Pulp Revolution movie.

I’ve often run to IMDB to find out what other movies a set of actors have been in. This is the first movie I’ve ever watched that made me run to Twitter immediately after to find the main actors’ twitter handles to praise them.

Watch it as soon as possible, and leave your comments.

 

Must-Read SFF: The Last Coin, by James P. Blaylock

  • by Gitabushi

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This book is…odd. Yet immensely enjoyable.

I had no idea what I was reading at first.  Was the main character insane? Did this world have different rules than our Earth?

But I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. The main character might be insane, but most likely just has an eccentric view of how the world works and his place in it. Eccentric, yet still functional. And the eccentric view is probably also vital in the course of saving the world.

In some ways, this book is very nearly the distillation of Kaijubushi’s tweeting style into a complete, novel-length narrative.

But only in some ways.

I’ve read other books by Blaylock, and most of them don’t approach the sheer joyful lunacy of this work.  I haven’t yet been able to get my hands on the first book of the Elfin Ship series, yet, however; brief perusals of The Disappearing Dwarf (second in the series) lead me to believe it has the same sort of wit and upbeat zaniness.

Still, the Last Coin covers a fairly serious topic, and does it quite well.  There is menace in the antagonist, and stakes rise appreciably throughout the story, as a good story should.

The characters are memorable, the plot is developed well, and without implausible shifts or solutions that ruin the willful suspension of disbelief.

I don’t really want to say much more, because that could spoil the delight of discovery on your own. You can freely read the back-cover description, however: the book is about the magical power of the 30 pieces of silver Judas Iscariot was paid to betray Christ, and how that power can be used for immortality and apocalypse, and how the use of that power is stopped by ordinary people doing what they think is right.

Although it is listed as the first in a trilogy, it does stand alone. When I finished reading, I had no idea any other stories were planned, much less written.

It is one of my favorite books, from an excellent writer at the top of his game. Highly recommended.

Why Water is Wet, and What This Says about Republican Racism in Refusing to Recognizing Barack Obama as the Greatest US President of All Time, in Three Charts

  • by Gitabushi

Actually, water is not wet in the way we traditionally associa…

I’m sorry, I don’t know what came over me.

The only thing I can think of is I was just accepted to write for a Vox Media subsidiary (NFL team website) on a trial basis.  /humblebrag