RiffTrax Live: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
I think I'm going to start skipping RiffTrax films and shorts that were done on MST3K, because it feels like already used their A material. That's the vibe I got from the Mr. B Natural short, and it's the feeling I got from this, with only the "Alex Trebek's funeral march" joke making any real impression on me. The Santa and the Snow Fairy Queen short provides some fresh material, though.
Dragon Rider (Cornelia Funke)
Dragon Rider feels less like a story and more like Cornelia Funke showing us her interpretations of several fantasy creatures. The chapters with the roc are particularly pointless, and scream "Hey, here's a roc! It's a giant bird!" It could have at least been there to set up the Moon Dew for later use, except it's completely forgotten by the last few chapters, especially when it's suggested that it can revive petrified dragons only for them to get chipped out by a dwarf instead. Oh, and the way Nettlebrand is defeated reeks of asspulling; I could have bought it if he was defeated by Twiglegs or the rat pilot going down his throat and stabbing his heart with one of his own scales, or even if the Moon Dew was what made him vulnerable. But nope, he's defeated with something completely stupid!
Plot Alzheimer's aside, there's little tension throughout the book - I'm pretty sure the major baddie is the only thing who ever dies. And the two main characters, Firedrake and Ben, are bland as a wallpaper paste smoothie. As irritating a Sorrel was at first, at least she mellowed out as the book progressed, mostly when Twiglegs showed up to counter it (even if his role in the story is as predictable as hell). I guess it's a well-built world, but it would have been nice to have something worthwhile going on in it.
Dirty Harry (R)
Fun Fact: The day after I watched this, this Cracked article ran. I intended to watch it while I was writing the Dirty Harry part, but couldn't find our copy of it. Otherwise, I would have made a joke about Scorpio's telephone goose chase having nothing on the door dickery.
As for the movie itself, I dunno. Some things are pretty dated like Eastwood's mumbling somehow equating "badass", and other moments are driven by the characters being idiots like Callahan going into the football stadium alone instead of calling for a police raid, or when Scorpio captures a kid who didn't have the sense to get the hell out of there when he heard gunshots. But it also has some classic scenes, like "Make my day, punk", the aformentioned telephone goose chase, and the glorious "Haha, fuck you!" moment in the ending. And with the Internet being what it is, the "Asshole does whatever the hell he wants, then whines like a little bitch when he crosses paths with somebody who isn't taking his shit" thing is still pretty relevant.
Wings of Fire: The Lost Heir (Tui T. Sutherland, Kindle eBook)
I was a bit iffy going into this one, being that it centers on Tsunami who I thought was the most irritating of the five dragonets in the first book. Well, she matures considerably through the book, even if the "being queen doesn't mean doing whatever you want" moral seems to have been lifted from The Lion King.
There's also this murder mystery going on, where somebody has been assassinating the princesses of the the sea dragons for years, and the identity of the assassin has to be the biggest "Are you shitting me??" bait-and-switch since the big reveal of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (at least Lost Heir doesn't spend the next ten pages butchering all traces of subtlety). It also kind of irked me that it took a character 220 pages to make the observation about said assassinations that I'd had ever since Tsunami started whining about how she could have been a princess if the Talons of Peace hadn't kidnapped her.
We Three Dragons (Edited by Bill Fawcett)
Guess I just want to read about dragons, lately.
So as the cover the book says, this is a trilogy of stories, one short story and two novellas, about Christmas with dragons. The first one's mostly unremarkable except for how it uses the book format to do something you really couldn't do with a visual medium. The second one seems to be inspired by The Grinch, what with the heartless miser from the mountain attempting to steal Christmas and learning love from an innocent girl, only with a showdown with an even bigger bastard. The third is essentially "A Christmas Carol with a dragon". Overall, it didn't knock my socks off as much as stories about dragons should, but I guess I can thank the Christmas influence for that.
Awesome cover art, though.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger Complete Collection (Roger Landgridge and Chris Samnee)
In her review of a Scooby-Doo game, Flying Omelette said it was like getting on a roller coaster that ends right after it gets things set up. That's what this felt like: it's meant to be a cartoonier take on Thor, but there's only eight issues to the story, plus a bonus "Free Comic Day" issue, and I'm pretty sure this was meant to be an ongoing thing that got canned early due to lack of interest. It ends abruptly after an Iron Man crossover against a mysterious villain called "K", Thor never learns why he was banished (I guess you're just supposed to know from previous Thor comics and movies and Loki's vague hints that he picked a fight with the Frost Giants), and the back of the book shows Samnee's concept art for the Hulk, who isn't in any of the finished comics.
As for what's here, it's pretty decent. Again, it's a lighter, cartoonier take on Thor and there are some cute moments like when Loki pays Thor a visit through the TV, and a particularly silly issue where Thor's mates pay him a visit and while trying to find some Scandanavian place that doesn't exist anymore they get into a brawl with some British superhero I've never heard of. But you need previous experience with Thor to get anything out of it and newbies probably aren't going to recognize Heimdall's dragon form as Fin Fang Foom. Would have been nice to get the whole story, unless this really was all there was supposed to be of it, in which case, WTF guys?
By the way, is Namor a good guy or a villain? The cover of the fifth issue seems to show Namor fighting with Thor, and I know the guy has squabbled with the Fantastic Four and Avengers in the past. But the actual issue has the two working together to defeat a Leviathan-whale thing, and he's heroic in all the other mediums I've actually seen him in. Does it just depend on who's writing him like the Hulk?