Category Archives: Media Review

My Bloody Valentine (2009 Movie)

Lionsgate

My rating: 3 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience/Rated R for all the reasons–sex, language, nudity, blood and gore, violence, you name it, you’ve been warned

Tom Warden returns to the small mining town of Harmony after nearly ten years away to settle things following his father’s death. But it seems the past is coming back to haunt him as a series of violent murders sweeps across the rural community . . . murders that parallel closely those that devastated the town on Valentine’s Day ten years ago. And people can’t help but wonder, since Tom was in a way responsible for the previous murders, or at least for the mining accident that created the monster responsible for them.

My Bloody Valentine is a great reminder of why I don’t watch slasher films–but I couldn’t resist the awesomeness that is Jensen Ackles anymore, I just couldn’t. And I have to say that if this were my kind of movie, I would likely have given it quite a high rating. There’s more story to it that just a random collection of bodies building up, so points for that. The casting and acting are well done, too–and yes, I have to gush a bit over the great job Jensen did with this role. There’s a lot of subtlety and suggestion that goes into this part, and he pulls it off with his typical aplomb. But I have to say that the other actors did a great job with their parts, too, which again made the whole thing much more enjoyable. Having said that, there’s a lot of violence and just cringe-worthy, graphic murders–kudos on the CG, by the way–that are just kind of awful, even though they’re executed well. So yeah, fair warning and all that; this is likely to induce nightmares. I did enjoy the twist at the ending, even if it was a bit predictable. Of note, this is a remake of the 1981 movie of the same title, which I haven’t seen, so I can’t comment on any comparisons between the two. Recommended for Ackles fans and for slasher fans, but probably not otherwise. And I’ll always love Ten Inch Hero waaaaay more.

Directed by Patrick Lussier/Produced by Jack L. Murray/Screenplay by Zane Smith, Todd Farmer, & John Beaird (1981 screenplay)/Story by Stephen Miller (1981 story)/Based on My Bloody Valentine by George Mihalka/Starring Jensen Ackles, Jaime King, Kerr Smith, Betsy Rue, & Kevin Tighe/Music by Michael Wandmacher

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Secret Santa (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: TheLastPilot

AO3 ID: 5386433/FanFiction ID: 11644460

Status: Complete (7 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Talk about good luck! Marinette draws Adrien’s name for their class’s Secret Santa exchange, giving her the perfect opportunity to give him the handmade coat she’s been designing just for him–with no excuse to back out in stammering embarrassment. Little does she know that he’s drawn her name and is putting a lot of thought into getting the perfect, thoughtful gift for her too. Gifts exchanged lead to more conversation, plans to hang out, and Marinette’s realization that for all the glamour of Adrien’s rich-kid/model life, he’s actually pretty lonely, especially when his other friends leave town for the holidays. Marinette’s not about to have that, so she pushes her (huge) crush on him down and determines to give him the happy family holiday he’s never had.

I know, I know, this is totally out of season, but this adorable story was too utterly sweet to not post about, regardless of the season. TheLastPilot is probably one of my absolute favorite Miraculous Ladybug fanfic writers because the tone is spot on (pun only slightly intended), the plots are thoughtful and well-planned, and the characters are the best, most enjoyable versions of themselves. Secret Santa is a great example of just that. It’s mostly this sweet (like, watch out for cavities, seriously), adorable friendship-to-maybe-more fluffy story with a big emphasis on the friendship. Marinette and Adrien’s awkward but growing friendship is really fun to read, especially with the way they esteem each other’s alter-ego without knowing their true identity woven into their interactions. And yeah, we do get a great reveal eventually. But there’s a lot of these two just being teenagers, too–shopping, playing video games, hanging out with Marinette’s parents (who are also awesome)–and that is lots of fun. The sense of humor that pervades this story is just perfect, balanced with just enough angst (mostly stemming from the notorious Gabriel Agreste) to balance it out and make the happy parts all the sweeter. Secret Santa is definitely recommended, regardless of the season.

NOTE: You can find Secret Santa at https://archiveofourown.org/works/5386433/chapters/12440687 or at https://www.fanfiction.net/s/11644460/1/Secret-Santa.

 

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That Awkward Moment When . . . (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: breeeliss

AO3 ID: 7770289

Status: Complete (7 Chapters)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

Much as she and Chat Noir were careful to keep their true identities secret from everyone–including each other–Ladybug was well aware that they would probably find out eventually. But she never expected her superhero partner to be her hopeless crush, the boy she sits behind in class. And neither Marinette nor Adrien expected to find out by running into each other in a back hall of the school in the midst of transforming back to their normal personas. Awkward. . . . The two struggle to combine their images of each other–Ladybug and Marinette seem pretty different to Adrien, and Marinette could say the same about Adrien and Chat Noir. And how do they even relate to each other now?! The challenges of teenage awkwardness facing these two could very well be enough to break the good thing these two superheroes have together . . . or maybe, just maybe, it could be the start of something even better.

Okay, this fandom is totally killing me with cuteness. I blame it entirely for my lack of posting much recently (okay, and I’ve been in a slump, but mostly I’ve been reading ML fanfic). I feel like That Awkward Moment When . . . does something special, even for this adorable fandom. Because it takes the reveal between these two and gives it to us in a lighthearted, humorous manner . . . but it also draws out a real, human side of this pair’s situation, a side that has relevance even to normal everyday relationships. It shows clearly how these two focused on each other in a surface-only manner and obsessed over someone who wasn’t even the real person at all. And it also shows a growth of real relationship that goes way beyond the surface level, becoming something meaningful and lasting and beautiful. You get a beautiful, real friendship that, yes, eventually grows into something more (but maintains a canon-typical rating, which is nice). I enjoyed the characterizations in this story, the way the people were written, as well as the writing style itself. That Awkward Moment When . . . managed to make me laugh (a lot), think, and even cry a bit at the end. Definitely recommended.

Note: You can find That Awkward Moment When . . . at https://archiveofourown.org/works/7770289/chapters/17722588.

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These Things Don’t Just Happen Overnight (Miraculous Ladybug Fanfic)

Author: PitViperOfDoom

AO3 ID: 6385852

Status: Complete (oneshot)

My rating: 4 of 5

Alya watches, baffled (and maybe just a bit scared) as her best friend Marinette’s relationship with her crush Adrien changes epically overnight. As in, one day Marinette struggles to piece together complete sentences around him. The next, she’s arguing the improbabilities of centaur anatomy with him. Scary weird. . . . And weirder still, some weeks later, as Paris’s superhero duo Ladybug and Chat Noir find themselves facing–oddly enough–a centaur-like akuma, the conversation Alya overhears between them seems oddly familiar.

These Things Don’t Just Happen Overnight manages to be a cute, slightly crackish, yet understated revealfic for an absolutely adorable show. I love the way the author shows us everything from Alya’s perspective–the friend’s insight, the journalist’s observation, but still the incomplete picture that comes from missing a huge chunk of the puzzle . . . although one gets the impression she’ll probably figure it out pretty soon. I loved how Marinette and Adrien go from this awkward friendship-in-the-works to an easy, established relationship overnight once their secret identities are revealed and they recognize each other as the partners they are (and yes, I’m aware of how awkwardly worded that sentence is, sorry). I’ve seen reveals between these two go the gamut from super-awkward afterwards to casually-comfortable, and the way this one goes is both cute and fitting for the flavor of the story here. I really love the humor that is liberally sprinkled throughout–again, it’s almost crackish, but it works. Also . . . totally random, but the centaur argument is scarily similar to one my Pathfinder group has had, and it made me laugh.

Note: You can find These Things Don’t Just Happen Overnight at https://archiveofourown.org/works/6385852.

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Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (2016-2017 TV Series)

BBC America

Status: Complete (2 Seasons/18 Episodes)

My rating: 4 of 5

Warning: Mature Audience/rated TV-14

“Have you noticed an acceleration of strangeness in your life of late?” It’s an odd question to be coming from the man who just forced his way through the window into your flat then had the audacity to be affronted when you’re upset by his presence. And yet, for Todd Brotzman, it’s an oddly apt one as his life has abruptly gone from one of inane consistency to a flurry of strangeness, ending with himself unemployed, a person of interest in a frankly impossible murder case, and, oh yeah, with an odd man in a yellow jacket climbing through his window. And the fun is just beginning.

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is one of those shows that is absolutely brilliant . . . as long as you have the patience to deal with the utter absurdity of it. The WTF-factor is huge here, with weird happenings and an accumulation of strange coincidences that all happen to connect somehow just piling on en masse. But the story has a way of rewarding viewers who stick around for the weirdness, bringing everything together in the end to make an odd sort of sense. The characters are well written, brilliantly cast, and quite interesting. Moreover, they’re relatable, perhaps more than most any characters in a TV show I’ve ever encountered. Seriously, they’re so utterly not pulled together, and it’s actually endearing and affirming to see them going about their lives, trying to make things work, while sometimes not having a clue and being so ridden with doubt and guilt. They’re very human in the midst of something that’s completely strange, paranormal even. Which isn’t to say that all the characters are normal–I would say that Dirk himself, as well as all the other Black Wing subjects, are extremely odd in their mannerisms and their way of interacting with the world, the whole “holistic” leaf-on-the-wind thing. But they make for fabulous characters. I feel like the filming is visually rewarding as well–case in point the very beginning of the first season, where we go from close-ups of Dirk’s face (too close to actually identify him immediately) to an impossibly violent and improbably crime scene to a kitten in rapid progression. Or the beginning of the second season, where we are confronted with a fantasy setting, complete with a pink-haired prince and giant scissors wielded as swords (I was almost convinced this was a preview for another show at first, it was so strange!). Seriously, though, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency is one of those shows that definitely isn’t for everyone, but if you’re willing to be patient with the weirdness, it’s oddly rewarding.

Created by Max Landis/Based on Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency and The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul
by Douglas Adams/Starring Samuel Barnett, Elijah Wood, Hannah Marks, Fiona Dourif, Jade Eshete, Mpho Koaho, Michael Eklund, Dustin Milligan, Osiric Chau/Music by Cristobal Tapia de Veer & The Newton Brothers

 

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The Case of the Unwelcome Owl (Sherlock/Harry Potter Crossover Fanfic)

Author: FayJay

AO3 ID: 120495

Status: Complete (oneshot)

My rating: 4.5 of 5

John Watson finds himself awakened in the middle of the night by the looming form of his flatmate Sherlock Holmes at his bedroom doorway . . . demanding John hand over his gun to him. Because apparently, there’s an owl in the flat, and Sherlock wants to shoot it. And oh, look, there’s a fancy envelope the looks an awful lot like a wedding invitation that definitely shows signs of being held in said owl’s beak (John’s been learning to pay more attention to the small details). Only, since when do owls deliver correspondence? And who on earth would be brave enough to invite Sherlock to their wedding?

Oh my, The Case of the Unwelcome Owl was a delightful find for me. Basically, Sherlock receives a wedding invitation from his cousin Luna Lovegood, and John finds out about the whole wizarding world and (yay!) gets to meet Luna. Bordering on crackish (okay, it may have tipped rather far past the border at some points), it manages to be a charming character study. Really, as John says once he figures out what’s going on (sort of), it explains so much! And while it is remarkably quirky, this story also manages to be true to the characters in the essence of who they are, even while bringing in some very unorthodox backstory. I actually quite loved the way the author brings out the characters’ personalities through all sorts of little details, as well as the way the plot unfolds gradually with Sherlock holding on to his secrets as much as he can. On a side note, crossing other fandoms over with Harry Potter is basically the most done thing in the world . . . but this managed to be something unique and special. I love Luna, and she really doesn’t get enough attention–she’s got so much potential as a fanfic character, too, as is clearly shown in this fic. Also, kudos to the author for bringing so much humor into this story; The Case of the Unwelcome Owl had me laughing at every turn. Definitely recommended.

Note: You can find The Case of the Unwelcome Owl at https://archiveofourown.org/works/120495.

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The Freshman (Visual Novel)

Pixelberry Studios

Status: Complete (4 books)

My rating: 4 of 5

It’s the start of your freshman year at Hartfeld University, and the future is bright. You’ve got a suite full of fun, interesting people who seem to want to be friends . . . maybe even more than friends. Hey, maybe this will be the year you find love! Either way, there are great relationships to build. But not everything is perfect–you’ve got sorority drama, financial crises, a cranky mentor/boss who wants to use your personal drama for his own ends. In fact, things get pretty complicated pretty quickly.

The Freshman is a choose-your-own-adventure sort of visual novel available through Pixelberry’s Choices app. I have to say, I really enjoyed this game. It brings out both the drama and the excitement of college, the thrill of defining yourself, building friendships, and making choices that will determine your future. I feel like they did a good job of making the main character–the girl you play–both developed as a character and open to interpretation based on the choices you make. That’s a hard line to determine, but I think the way they did it works. I definitely enjoyed the other characters as well; you’ve got some strong personalities, but it makes for an enjoyable mix. Although yes, also waaaaay more drama then I ever had at college, thank you very much. The creators manage to keep it fun though, mixing in humor and sweet moments in the midst of the drama and angst. In addition to all the school activity and drama going on with your group of friends, this is also a romance story (some might say it’s primarily a romance story, although I think it’s possible to stay single throughout if you so choose) with three dating choices. Again, I felt like this was fairly well-balanced against the rest of the game. The art and music were well done, and the text/interface are easy to interact with. Honestly, my only complaints are the main complaints I have with the Choices app itself–primarily that certain choices cost diamonds, and it’s impossible to get enough diamonds to afford all the choices you want to make without spending actual money. But I found I was able to enjoy the game in spite of not having the diamonds to choose everything I wanted to, so it doesn’t negatively affect the story too much. I would recommend The Freshman to anyone who enjoys a slice-of-life sort of story and to those who like western (as opposed to Japanese) visual novels.

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