Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mini movie review: John Carter

Mr. Mouse rolled his eyes when I said I'd watched Disney's much-maligned, money pit of a movie, John Carter: "I heard that movie was TERRIBLE."  It wasn't fantastic but I don't think it entirely deserved the thrashing it got, especially when viewed as an homage to all the space operas that have gone before.  Pluswhich, I feel like I was obligated to watch it as a Utah resident: much of the Mars scenes were shot in the crazy rock and desert terrain of southern Utah.  The river scenes, shot on location on Lake Powell, were particularly spectacular.  In no particular order, here are some random observations:
  • The movie is way too long at nearly two hours.  It starts off slowly (read: I may have nearly nodded off) but picks up once John Carter gets to Mars.
  • I always approve of a shirtless Taylor Kitsch.
  • Lynn Collins more than holds her own as an ass-kicking Martian princess and her costumes should be held up there alongside Leia's gold bikini.
  • The CGI is pretty well done, especially the Tharks and that ADORABLE dog/lizard (Woola?).
  • The plotting gets muddled and the dialogue is at times incomprehensible, particularly since Kitsch tends to mumble.  With a movie like this, though, I'm not sure plot and dialogue are all that important.
  • I'm trying to decide if I should read the source material.
  • I think the Powers that Be did this movie a big disservice by removing the "of Mars" from the title.  John Carter of Mars gives the uninitiated a clue that "hey! this is a science fiction flick!"  Just John Carter could be about anything.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

True Blood episode recap "And When I Die" S4E12

At breakfast, Lafayette is oddly quiet but Jesus doesn't realize he's been possessed by Marnie's spirit ... until he kisses him goodbye and Lafayette/Marnie stabs him in the hand with a fork.  Ouch!

It's Samhain (Halloween), Wiccan's highest holy day and the day when spirits lurk nearby the living world,  For instance, Sookie gets a vision of Gram - lying dead on the kitchen floor - when she's making coffee.

Jason can't bear his guilty conscience anymore and tells Hoyt about hooking up with Jessica.  Hoyt, understandably hurt and pissed off, hits his BFF in the face several times and tells him they are no longer friends.  Jason is sad.

After Lafayette/Marnie ties Jesus to a chair, s/he tells him that s/he wants the brujo demon inside him.  Jesus: "You cannot trade magic like fucking Pokemon cards!"  Unfortunately, the only way to get the demon is to kill Jesus.  That's too bad - just when the character was getting interesting.

Things are hopping over at Merlotte's.  One of Terry's old Army buddies stops by, surprising Terry because he thought he was dead.  (Is he a ghost?)  Alcide stops by to see Sookie during her shift and tells her that he's in love with her - he thinks they'd be good for each other and should be together.  Sookie says that she can't help who she loves.  Alcide:  Try harder.  Then he gets a phone call and has to go.

Tara swings by Lafayette's house and finds the recently deceased Jesus.  After some screaming, she goes to Merlotte's to collect Sookie and Holly, telling them that she thinks Marnie is back.  They head to Bill's mansion where Lafayette/Marnie has already slaughtered Bill's bodyguards and tied Bill and Eric to a pyre with silver chains.  While Lafayette/Marnie rants and lights the pyre, Holly casts a circle of salt and the three girls join hands and start chanting, trying to cast Marnie out.  They call upon the friendly spirits - and the spirits come, dozens of them, including Antoina - who extinguishes the pyre before the two vampires get too crispy.  Gram is there too, and she reaches down Lafayette's throat and pulls Marnie out.  The witch's spirit rages that she's not ready to go.  But the other spirits step in and send her off into the white light.  As the spirits fade away, Gram takes a moment to see how her granddaughter is doing.  She tells a crying Sookie that she'll be okay if she's alone (i.e., not with Bill, or Eric, or Alcide).

Back at the bar, spirit Rene appears to a frightened Arlene and warns her that the ghosts of Terry's past aren't going to stay buried forever and that she should run.  See, I totally think that Army buddy is a ghost now.  On the other side of town, Jessica shows up at Jason's house, wearing nothing but a red negligee.  "Let me in," she says.  He does and they bone on the couch.  She tells him that she doesn't want to be his girlfriend - she just wants to be fuck-buddies for now.  He seems okay with that.

"I am so over Sookie with her precious faerie vagina and her fucking stupid name!  Fuck Sookie!"  This is Pam, having a total breakdown because Eric will not see her after she wanted to blow up the magic shop with Sookie in it.  Speaking of Sookie, she is feeding her blood to both Eric and Bill to heal them from Marnie's bonfire.  The two vampires are wearing matching red and blue striped robes and look like total dorks.  Sookie finally grows a backbone and breaks up with both/each of them.  "This is the hardest decision I've ever had to make but I know it's the right one for all of us.  Don't try to stop me, either of you."  Sobbing, she leaves.

A distraught Lafayette is spending the night at Sookie's house and Jesus's spirit appears to him.  Jesus forgives him and tells him that he'll be okay. "Dude, I'm dead and you're a medium.  I'll always be with you." On the other side of town, after Sam says goodnight to Luna, he hears growling behind him.  He turns and there's a huge black wolf staring at him.

Just moments after Jessica leaves, there's a knock on Jason's door.  When he opens it, it's his old buddy, Reverend Steve from the Light of Day Church (waaaaay back in S2), who is apparently now a vampire.  Oops.  That phone call Alcide got brought him to his job site: the foreman has been glamoured and there's a big hole in the floor of the parking garage: uh-oh, it looks like ol' King Russell is on the loose.  Back over at Bill's, Nan and her "gay stormtroopers" (per Eric) stomp in.  She's pissed because she quit/was fired from the AVL and the Vampire Authority.  She wants Bill and Eric to join her against the Authority, saying there are factions ready to rebel.  They humor her until she brings up the fact that she knows Sookie is a faerie and wouldn't every vampire everywhere like to have a taste of that.  In a wonderful bit of violence. Eric quickly decapitates the three stormtroopers and Bill stakes Nan, who explodes in a gush of blood.  "What a bitch," notes Eric.

And finally, when Sookie gets home she finds a strung out Debbie in her kitchen.  Debbie has a shotgun and as she fires at Sookie, Tara dives in front of her friend. Awesomely, Sookie grabs the shotgun, shoves it under Debbie's chin and literally blows her head off.  However, Tara has a huge hole in the back of her own skull and Sookie screams for help as the credits roll.  There's probably no chance that Tara will actually stay dead, is there?

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

True Blood episode recap "Soul of Fire" S4E11

The objective is to obliterate the witches tonight.  "Let's blow up this Wiccan dipshit," says Pam," I've got a mani-pedi at 4."  Inside the magic shop, things are getting tense.  Sookie, Lafayette and Jesus have been teleported inside, along with Tara, Holly and the others.  The other coven members are getting scared that they won't survive the battle with the vampires and when one of them bolts, Marnie buries a dagger in her belly.  Everyone stares, astonished and horrified.  After the credits break, Antonia claws her way out of Marnie's body.  No one but the two mediums - Marnie and Lafayette - can see her.  Antonia is furious with Marnie for killing that coven member.  Marnie casts a binding spell and sucks Antonia back into her.  Jesus:  We're fucked.

Outside, Jason stops the vampires from firing their bazookas into the store, telling them that Sookie is in there.  Bill and Eric of course want to abort the mission.  Pam is coldly livid:  "Holy shit, gentlemen.  Do not tell me you'd put our entire species at risk for a gash in a sundress."  God I love Pam.  Jason shows them the protection forcefield anyway - chances are, the shells wouldn't have made it through anyway.  As they try to reformulate a plan, the ensorcelled vampire sheriffs attack them.

Marcus has snatched Luna's and his daughter Emma out of school and taken her to Debbie and Alcide's house.  He tries to convince Debbie to come away with them, saying he'll help get her back off the V again.  It seems like some scenes were cut because this Debbie and Marcus thing seems sudden.  Meanwhile, Sam, Alcide and Luna are trying to find Marcus.  While Marcus and Debbie argue, Emma calls her mom.  They check the number and realize Marcus is at Alcide's house.

Meanwhile, back at the magic shop, Jesus checks the girl Marnie stabbed and says she's still got a pulse.  He and Lafayette carry her into the bathroom and shut the door.  In actuality, the girl really is dead and Jesus is ready to invoke some "brujo shit" - blood magic - to try to separate Marnie and Antonia.  He needs the dead girl's blood to do it.

While Sookie watches, helpless, Marnie gathers her remaining coven to cast a spell on Bill et als., drawing them towards the forcefield.  Since the forcefield is powered by sunlight, it will fry any vampire who touches it.  The vampires fight the spell, screaming, but they can't resist, lurching closer and closer.  Inside, Jesus casts his own spell and, before Lafayette's horrified eyes, is possessed by the demon.  Sookie can hear Jason's panicked thoughts as he tries to keep the vampires away from the forcefield.  She blasts that faerie magic through the coven's circle, blowing them apart and freeing the vampires.

Sam and Alcide confront Marcus in Alcide's bedroom.  Sam and Marcus throw down and Sam ends up nearly killing him.  He decides to let him live but Marcus lunges for a gun and Alcide tackles him and crushes his windpipe.  Debbie is terrified and Alcide turns on her next.  If you've ever wanted to know how a werewolf breaks up with his bitch, this is how it's done:  "I abjure you.  I will see you no longer.  I'll hunt with you no longer.  I'll share flesh with you no longer."  Alcide and Sam walk out, leaving Debbie a crying, quivering mess.

Marnie is pissed at what Sookie has done and casts a circle of fire around her.  Jesus reaches deep, speaking in tongues.  Bill and Eric can sense Sookie's terror and can't do a damn thing about it because of the forcefield.  Jesus, in full brujo mode, rips Antonia out of Marnie.  The Spanish spirit fades away as Marnie cries.  The forcefield comes crashing down and Bill and Eric rush into the store.  They let everyone go (except one whiny coven member whose heart Eric eats) and then Bill shoots Marnie, ending it.

Afterwards, everyone picks up the pieces and goes home.  Jesus is really sad about what happened to Marnie and Lafayette tries to console him, reminding him about all the people he helped save.  They go to bed, exhausted.  But before Lafayette can fall asleep, Marnie's spirit appears above him and dives into his mouth.  Looks like the witch isn't quite done yet after all.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Sunday, June 16, 2013

True Blood episode recap "Burning Down the House" S4E10

Marnie/Antonia orders her ensorcelled vampires to "kill the King!"  All hell breaks loose in the convention hall.  Antonia breaks free of Marnie momentarily, horrified by the carnage she's caused.  Sookie tries to break up the fight between Eric and Bill and, just as Eric is about to stake ol' Bill, she screams "No more!" and shoots a helluva lot of faerie light at him.  The blast manages to break the spells on Eric and all his memories coming flooding back.  FINALLY.  Up in the balcony, Marnie/Antonia is all, oh shit, I gotta get out of here.

After the truck sex, Jason feels guilty for betraying Hoyt.  Jessica doesn't - she's over it: "Fuckin' humans.  I'm gonna go find someone to eat."  Meanwhile, Alcide wants to take Tommy to the hospital but Tommy, his body shifting uncontrollably, says that he's dying and asks the big wolf to take him home.  Apparently, skinwalking is not so much a good idea.

Back at Bill's mansion, Nan is ready to glamour the humans and spin what happened at the Festival of Tolerance, but Bill's all, you are not in charge anymore and we are going to kill that necromancer by any means possible.  And in the other room, Eric tells Sookie that even though he's back in form, he still loves her.  She's all, I love you but I love Bill too.  FM: Bored now.  Sookie hears Bill's plan to blow up the Moongoddess Emporium and is upset because Tara (and other assorted humans) are inside.  But Bill refuses to listen to her.

Sam meets Alcide and Tommy at Merlotte's.  They bring the dying boy inside and lay him on the pool table.  The two older men try their best to comfort him.  "There ain't no Heaven," groans Tommy, "and Hell's a dogfight.  I'm gonna disappear like I was never here - it's what I want."  He apologizes to his older brother and Sam tells him that nothing was his fault.  Tommy: "You were the best part of my life."  A few struggling breaths later and he dies.  Sam looks at Alcide: Marcus is one dead fuckin' wolf.

There's this fairly adorable scene(s), where Terry runs an intervention on his V-snortin' cousin Andy, taking him out to "Fort Bellefleur," an old treehouse they built when they were kids.  They shoot guns and Terry talks about his PTSD and it's all very cute.  But I don't really care about the plotline so I'm not recapping it.  Needless to say, Andy finally gets a grip.

In a backroom of the Moongoddess Emporium (am I sick of writing that name or what?), Antonia pulls herself out of Marnie and the two witches argue: Antonia feels badly about hurting humans and she thinks there are just too many vampires to fight in this day and age; Marnie, however, wants to keep on course.  She sucks the Spanish witch back into her.

Sookie, Jason, Lafayette and Jesus go to town and hunker down outside the magic shop.  Jesus is determined to cast out Antonia and save Marnie, not knowing that Marnie has lost her shit.  He heads to the shop, telling Sookie to keep listening for him.  He can't get in there, though, because there's a magical forcefield surrounding the store.  Marnie/Antonia goes out to meet him, saying that if he can force his way in, she can use him.  He fights his way in, but it causes him great pain and his inner demon comes out - prompting Jason to ask, "What's wrong with his head?" to which Lafayette replies, "It's a Latin thang."  Inside, Jesus speaks with both Antonia and Marnie and is surprised to learn that none of this has been against Marnie's will: she is thrilled with the powers she's acquired.  Jesus sends a mental update to Sookie, telling her that Marnie is the one running the show.  In the other room, Tara and Holly try casting a spell.  They run outside; Sookie and Lafayette run to them; an angry Marnie teleports them all away.  Jason, left behind, is all, WTF now?

That night, Bill, Eric, Jessica and Pam drive to the magic shop.  They're all dressed in black leather, toting some serious firepower and looking dead-sexy and dangerous.  Shit's about to get blown up, y'all.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Thursday, June 13, 2013

True Blood episode recap "Let's Get Out of Here" S4E9

Alcide and Bill take the unconscious Sookie back to her house.  Bill manages to feed her some of his blood, healing her.  Alcide is irate, reminding Sookie that once again she nearly got killed because of her involvement with "fangers."  She just says that they need to find Eric.  The witches regroup at the Moongoddess Emporium, the ensorcelled Eric in tow.  Marnie/Antonia has a plan: they're going to take Eric to a "Festival of Tolerance" pro-vampire rally tomorrow night and turn him loose, showing the world what damage vampires can do, and then they're going to show what they can do to vampires.  Tara and Holly are all WTF but Marnie/Antonia won't let them leave.

Luna is nervous that the angry Marcus will come back and hassle them further so Sam suggests they steal away and go camping instead.  They spend a nice day together, the three of them, and the next night, with Emma asleep in another tent, Sam and Luna have Big Sex.

Back at Bill's mansion, Jessica is hilariously recounting her disaster of a love life to a singularly uninterested Nan.  When an agitated Bill returns, Nan wants to know what going on, what he's fucked up now.  Cut to: Bill, Jessica and Nan covered in silver in the basement to guard against the pissed off witches for the day.  Bill and Nan snarl and snipe at each other. Nan refuses to cancel the Festival of Hate even though Bill is sure the witches will try to sabotage it; she tells him that he's welcome to up the security if he thinks there'll be a problem.

In the morning, the possessed Lafayette throws Hoyt out of his house (because that's where ghost lady used to live back when she was alive), muttering, "This my house, this my bebe."  Hoyt calls Jason, who is over with Arlene and Terry who are freaking out over Mikey's disappearance.  Hoyt tells Jason about Lafayette, the baby and the gun.  Everyone heads over to Hoyt's immediately.

OH MY EFFING HELL: Sookie has a sex dream where she's with both Bill and Eric at the same time, because she's a wishywashy twit who can't make up her mind.  Anna Paquin has a rockin' body, however.  This scene is cheesy beyond belief, even for this show, complete with soft focus.

Marcus turns up at Merlotte's, looking for Sam.  Tommy is there, writing his big brother a goodbye note.  But when Marcus says that he wants a meeting with Sam, Tommy has another idea: suicide by werewolf.  Later, Alcide swings by Marcus's to say that he'd be interested in moving up in the pack because it's important to Debbie.  Marcus is like, yeah, sure, and could you and your really large muscles come by the shop tonight when this shifter, who's moving in on my ex, stops by?  I mean, not in so many words but still.

It's a total Keystone Kops clusterfuck at Hoyt's house as Andy and Jason try to get Lafayette to come outside.  On the plus side, we learn that the ghost lady's name is Mavis.  Arlene is smart enough to call Jesus and tell him that his boyfriend is acting very strangely; when Jesus gets there, and goes inside the house, he figures out the possession quickly.  Nelsan Ellis is really wonderful as Mavis-in-Lafayette.  Mavis breaks down and tells Jesus that her baby is dead and she just wants to hold him one more time.  Jesus has an idea. He takes Mavis back through her memories to figure out where the bodies are buried.  That night, Jesus and Hoyt dig up the backyard and find the remains of both mother and baby.  Mavis/Lafayette cradles the baby's bones for a bit until Jesus tells her it's time for her to leave and let Lafayette go.  Mavis's spirit pours out of Lafayette in a wave of golden light - and everyone there, Jesus, Hoyt, Arlene, Terry, sees poor Mavis fly on up to Heaven, calling "thank you" to an exhausted Lafayette.

Over at Moongoddess Emporium, Debbie (who is helping Sookie in an attempt to curb her jealousy) distracts Marnie/Antonia long enough for Sookie to sneak into the back.  She finds the ensorcelled Eric who tells her that the plan is for him to kill Bill.  Tara catches her and gets Sookie to read her mind, telling her that Bill is over at the Festival at some swanky hotel.  Sookie escapes and heads to the Festival.  Marnie/Antonia grabs Eric and another couple of faithful members of her coven and heads to the Festival herself, casting a spell on the magic shop's doors and locking the rest of the coven (including Tara and Holly) inside.

Jason stops by Bill's house to give Jessica her stuff from Hoyt's house.  She's sad.  And Jason can't help himself: they have energetic sex in the bed of his pickup truck.  Down in Shreveport, Tommy-as-Sam lurches  into Marcus's auto body shop.  Sam Trammel does a nice job of doing Tommy mimicking Sam's speech patterns.  The shifter pisses the werewolves off immediately and they kick the living shit out of him until Alcide steps in.  Badly beaten, Tommy is unable to hold Sam's form and shifts back into himself.  Alcide gathers him up and carries him out.

At the Festival of Tolerance,  there's all sorts of pro-vampire speeches ... until Marnie/Antonia and her crew show up.  When the other sheriffs corner Eric, Marnie/Antonia casts a spell on them and then turns them loose on the human audience.  That's pretty cold, actually.  Sookie sneaks in to warn Bill but the carnage has already started as the ensorcelled sheriffs kill all Bill's bodyguards.  Sookie shrieks at Bill to run but Eric already has him in his sights.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Monday, June 10, 2013

True Blood episode recap "Spellbound" S4E8

Just as Jessica pulls open the doors, Jason comes sprinting up, yelling her name.  He tackles her, knocking her back inside and kicking the door closed.  She is not happy at being thwarted.  Across town, the coven stops chanting, figuring the damage has been done.  Jess immediately snaps out of it and kisses Jason, thanking him for saving her life.  Then they make out for a while before Jason takes her back downstairs and drapers her with silver again in case the coven starts chanting again.

Alcide's new pack declares that they will not be getting involved in the vampires vs. witches kerfuffle.  Sam stops by Luna's house to tell her that he threw Tommy out.  They make up.  As the sun sets, Sookie pulls the silver chains off Eric and, noting how gory his silvered wounds are, offers her blood to nourish and heal him, trusting him not to drain her.  Afterwards, he bites his own hand and asks her to drink, so "we will be one."  Whatever.

When Jessica returns home that evening, she tells Hoyt that she wants to break up, saying she's not made for monogamy with a human: "It's not enough, I wish it was because I love you and don't want to hurt you, but it's not enough."  He doesn't take it well and she kills him viciously, crushing his skull and then going out to Jason's truck and screwing him in the front seat.  But wait: it's all just a fever dream as she awakens in Bill's basement.  Whew - Hoyt didn't deserve that.

Sookie and Eric have stupid, trippy sex while they're high on each other's blood.  It's glowy and foolish and not at all hot.  I wonder if it's because Anna Paquin never really deeply kisses Alexander Skarsgard (perhaps because she's married to Bill in real life and it's just too personal).  This frigging show drives me nuts.

Marnie/Antonia is pissed that all that chanting only killed one vampire who neglected to leave town/chain herself up.  Tara is all on board with upping their offense and trying to kill a whole lot more vamps.  Bill calls Marnie/Antonia to "apologize" and offers to meet with her so they can discuss peace.  I think it's a trap.  She agrees to meet him at midnight.

Tommy breaks into Maxine Fortenberry's house and steals a bunch of her clothes, jewelry and makeup.  Down in Shreveport, Debbie is thrilled to have joined the pack.  Alcide admits that he liked what Marcus said about staying out of vampire business.

Over at Merlotte's, the ghost lady shows up again to sing to baby Mikey.  A really wound-up Maxine waddles in to meet with the mineral prospector.  It's Tommy, of course, skinwalking as Maxine to try and steal the mineral rights.  The prospector hands over a small check but it's nowhere near what Tommy was hoping for.  When Jessica returns home that night, she breaks up with Hoyt for real.  He doesn't take it well, unsurprisingly, and kicks her out of the house, revoking his invitation.  He says some harsh things to her, his poor heart broken.

Lafayette, snoozing on the couch, dreams of the ghost lady: she's from the 1930s(?) and the married white man who knocked her up killed her infant son and refused to let her bury him before murdering her too.  That's why her ghost keeps showing up around Mikey, looking for her lost baby.  Then the ghost lady is actually there, in the room with Lafayette. She dives into his mouth and voila! he's possessed.  Nelsan Ellis's physical acting is fantastic, swanning around daintily.

Eric and Sookie go to Bill's mansion to volunteer to fight against the witches.  Luna's ex-husband drops in unexpectedly while Sam, Luna and daughter Emma are eating dinner: surprising nobody, her ex is Marcus, the wolfpack leader.  And he's a total asshole about Sam being there.  Meanwhile, out in the woods, Tommy shifts out of Maxine and back into himself, collapsing and sick with the strain.

Jessica shows up at Jason's and tells him that she broke up with Hoyt.  Jason freaks out, because Hoyt is his BFF, and revokes his invitation to Jessica.  She is aghast, protesting as she gets sucked backwards out of the house.  The possessed Lafayette goes over to the Bellefleur plantation, stealing the sleeping Andy's service pistol and the cooing Mikey.

Midnight at the cemetery.  Bill and Marnie/Antonia meet and they've each brought back-up of vampires and human bodyguards and witches, respectively.  Bill makes an offer of peace which the witch rejects.  And then all hell breaks loose.  Witchy fog rolls in so no one can see anything.  Bullets and blood fly.  Pam grabs Tara but Bill commands Pam not to hurt her, ever, on pain of death.  Pam shrieks: " THIS IS SO FUCKING LAME!!!"  which is a little meta.  Alcide, unable to stay away from Sookie, swings by her house and hears the commotion in the nearby cemetery.  In the confusion/battle, Sookie gets shot although she does get off one good faerie power blast first.  Alcide finds her in the swirling fog and carries her away; a seething Debbie watches him, unnoticed in the underbrush.  A couple of witches pounce on Bill, binding him with silver, and Marnie/Antonia corners Eric.  And then the episode ends right there, with the great Siouxsie and the Banshees rendition of "Spellbound."  The end credit music has been stellar this season.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Mini book review: Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

I suppose "I liked it better than Twilight" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement but that's about the best I can do for Beautiful Creatures, the supernatural Southern Gothic YA romance by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl.  Set in the small Southern town of Gatlin, where the Civil War is adamantly referred to as "The War of Northern Aggression," the book follows first-person narrator Ethan, misfit son of misfit intellectuals, who just can't wait to get out of there after graduation.  Until the equally-and-even-moreso misfit Lena Duchannes arrives in town to live with her recluse uncle.  Lena is a witch Caster and has been sent to Gatlin for protection until her sixteenth birthday when she will be called to serve Good or Evil.  She and Ethan fall in love and together battle against bullying, bigotry and magical forces.

On the one hand, the characters aren't limp, passive twits, swanning around because they're in love.  They actively work together to deal with high school bullshit, uncover historical mysteries and save Lena's life.  There is great potential here, if only it were written better.  All the book's characters - and there are a lot - seem half-formed.  The dialogue is flat and not particularly realistic.  And people seem to spend a lot of time focused on unimportant things, only to rush through the big action set-pieces.  Good, well-written YA fantasy is possible - see Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series, for one - but Beautiful Creatures falls a bit short of the mark.  Although I did like it a lot more than that efffing Twilight crap.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

True Blood episode recap "Cold Grey Light of Dawn" S4E7

Marnie escapes from Bill's mansion with the help of that vampire sheriff she enthralled.  After she's gone, the sheriff goes to see Bill with a message from Marnie/Antonia: he shoots Bill and tries to kill him, but Bill ends up staking him without getting any answers.  Down in Shreveport, Alcide and Debbie officially join the wolf pack.  Why is it that all the werewolves on this show are rednecks?  Debbie's psyched but Alcide less so, especially since he's preoccupied with worrying about Sookie, which pisses Debbie off.

You know, there's stuff going on with Tara but I'm not really interested in it because she's such a downer.  Needless to say, she breaks up with her New Orleans girlfriend and throws herself back into the Bon Temps weirdness.  There's also some Andy Bellefleur stuff, but whatever: he's still taking V because it makes him feel stronger and more confident.  He's just a junkie.

Hoyt stops by to check on Jason, who is nervous about seeing his buddy what with the recent sex dream he had about Jessica (and Hoyt).  Hoyt says he thinks he's losing Jessica; Jason doesn't want to talk about it.

Bill calls Jessica to the mansion and tells her about Antonia possessing Marnie and the danger the necromancer poses to vampires.  Bill tells his remaining sheriffs to notify the local vampire population to either leave the area or willfully chain themselves with silver during daylight hours so Marnie can't make them walk into the sunlight.

Sookie and Eric move to her house and have sex all over it.  Afterwards, they cuddle and Eric's all in luuuurrve.  Gross.  During their pillow talk, she confesses that she'd like him to get his memories back for his sake, but she doesn't want him to change.  He points out that regaining his memories will absolutely change him: Would you still want me?  Ugh.

Down at Fangtasia, Pam is getting some kind of horrifying treatment which will strip away the exterior rot; she'll have to take six shots a day for the rest of her life to keep herself pretty, unless the curse can be lifted.  Pam is appalled but she's totally going to do whatever it takes to get her face back.  Meanwhile, Sam takes Tommy to the hospital but he bounces back quickly, feeling good enough to go back home.

Bill swings by Sookie's house, bringing a bunch of silver chains so Eric can keep safe down in his bunker.  "If you care anything for him, you will do this, or it will be his last day on earth."  As dawn approaches, Bill, Jessica, Eric, Pam, etc., all our favorite vampires, drape silver chains over their ankles, wrists, bellies and throats.  The pain is immense, draining their strength, burning their skin and causing them to bleed.  The stronger the vampire, the more silver they must bear just to keep themselves safe.

Out in the woods, Antonia/Marnie finds Tara, walking alone and drinking, and recruits her to the cause, drawing on their shared misery at the hands of vampires.  Tara convinces Holly to come back to the coven to help.  On their way back from Mexico, Jesus tells Lafayette how rare it is to be a medium, to be able to connect with the dead like that.  Also, Sam calls Luna who tells him to fuck right off, since her last experience with "Sam" was less than fun.  The real Sam's all, what did I do?  He tracks her down and together they manage to hash out what happened: Tommy skinwalking into his older brother.  They are both horrified for all sorts of reasons.  Sam goes home and confronts Tommy, furiously throwing him out.  Tommy pleads but Sam is unmoved.

At Merlotte's, since he's a medium, Lafayette can see the ghost mama hanging around Arlene's baby Mikey. He shoos the ghost away.  Also, Alcide and Debbie have remarkably chemistry-free sex.  Debbie thinks her man is in love with Sookie and methinks Alcide doth protest too much.  Also, the actress playing Debbie is shitty at crying.

Marnie/Antonia doesn't get her coven together until the afternoon, leaving the vampires to suffer all day.  But when she gathers the circle and casts out the spell, it's extremely powerful.  Bill and Eric struggle against their chains but cannot break free. Jessica, however, has not been restrained strongly enough.  She gets loose and staggers upstairs, dragging herself to the front doors of the mansion.  She unlocks them and pulls them wide open, sunlight flooding over her.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Saturday, June 1, 2013

True Blood episode recap "I Wish I Was the Moon" S4E6

Eric and Sookie move inside with their smooching, shedding clothes as they go.  And then Bill shows up.  He and Eric tussle a bit, Eric being stronger because he's so much older.  Sookie breaks up the fight when she shouts that Bill's the Vampire King.  Eric asks forgiveness immediately and drops to his knees.  Bill is nonplussed: so I guess he HAS lost his memory.

Bill handcuffs Eric in silver and takes him back to his mansion, putting him in the basement cells.  Sookie is furious and begs Bill not to hurt Eric.  Down in the basement, Eric is put in a cell with the rotting Pam.  She wants him to get out of here with her but he says King Bill thinks they're dangerous.  Pam: "Let me tell you a little something about King Bill.  He's a self-loathing, power-hungry, pompous little dork and you hate his guts!"  Heh.  But Eric breaks her heart when he tells her he likes who he is now and doesn't want to return to the terror he used to be.  Upstairs, Bill tells Nan what happened to Eric, spinning it enough that Nan authorizes him to "impose the true death" on the Viking.  Sookie won't be happy about that.

Terry and Arlene wake up just as their whole house is engulfed in flames.  They and all the kids get out safely but the house (Sam's property - I forgot he was their landlord) is a total loss.  As they watch the inferno, a ghostly black woman waves at baby Mikey, making him giggle, but when Arlene turns around, there's no one there.  In the morning, Sam shows up to clean up the mess; he calls Tommy and asks him to open Merlotte's for him since he'll be busy all day.  Tommy agrees and then has a little self-loathing breakdown after he hangs up the phone, slapping himself and screaming.  When he calms down, he looks in the mirror and screams again: he's inadvertently shifted into Sam.  For the afternoon, Tommy-as-Sam does the best he can (and Sam Trammel does some nice physical work being awkward in his own body): firing Sookie, flirting with girls, getting scolded by Maxine Fortenberry.  And that night, Luna comes by for a booty call.  Tommy does his best, which leaves Luna a little underwhelmed/surprised, but then, afterwards, Tommy-as-Sam rudely kicks her out.  She's pissed off but leaves.  And after she's gone, Tommy gets really, really sick and shifts back into himself.

Down in Mexico, Jesus's abuelo puts his grandson and Lafayette to a test: he causes a rattlesnake to bite Jesus and then locks the two men in a room alone, forcing Lafayette to access his powers and become possessed by the spirit of Jesus's dead uncle who was a psychic healer.  Lafayette heals his boyfriend but is all, WTF is going on here?

When Alcide comes home for lunch, he finds Debbine has been entertaining Marcus, the Shreveport packmaster.  She wants to join the pack because she needs socialization.  Marcus apologizes for the other night and invites the two of them to a full moon get-together later that night.

Sookie goes to find Jason and finds him worried that he's going to turn into a werepanther.  Sookie: "A were-what?"  He wants her to shoot him when he turns.  She refuses, of course, so he runs into the woods when she ducks inside the house for another beer.  Jessica senses Jason's feat - because he drank her blood - so she leaves her shift at Merlotte's and finds him out in the woods.  He starts to have a panic attack and she calms him down, promising that she won't leave him alone if he's really going to turn into a panther tonight.  Also out in the woods, Sookie runs into Alcide and Debbie, on their way to the werewolf meet-up; she asks them how weres are made.  They tell her that being a were-whatever is hereditary, genetic, not transmitted by virus through bites.  Sookie's all, yay! I gotta go!

In the cells, Marnie summons Antonia, the Spanish witch-spirit, and gets some more flashbacks/visions, plus Antonia materializes and throws herself down Marnie's throat.  Now Marnie is possessed.  Holy crap do I find this Marnie character annoying.

That night, Bill has Eric brought outside and prepares to stake him.  But there's NO suspense here because OBVIOUSLY Eric is not getting killed off.  Also, he's all meek and schmoopy and doesn't argue with his King, saying he hopes Bill will make Sookie happy when he's gone.

When Sam gets home, he finds Tommy passed out on the floor in a pool of bloody vomit.  Back at Bill's mansion, Antonia-as-Marnie manages to ensorcel one of the vampire sheriffs.  Out in the woods, Sookie fails to find her brother but runs into Eric, whom Bill has let go.  They immediately start making out, quickly seguing to having sex on a patch of grass by the creek.  It's all slow-motion and backlit and supposedly romantic but I don't find it sexy in the least, Alexander Skarsgard's bare butt notwithstanding.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood

Things not concerning Louisiana vampires

In amongst the True Blood chronicling, I've managed to squeeze in a couple of other things.  I've FINALLY started on S1 of Game of Thrones, because the library actually has the DVDs, but only got through five episodes because the disks were scratched.  Now I'm anxiously awaiting the remainder of the episodes to show up via  Peter Dinklage is awesome as Tyrion Lannister.

I watched Kinky Boots, the based-on-a-true-story about a Northamptonshire shoe factory which, rather than go out of business after generations, decides to switch from oxfords to fetish boots for drag queens and transvestites.  Joel Edgerton plays Charlie Price, unwillingly dragged back into the shoe factory after his father's death and determined that the factory not close on his watch, and Chiwetel Ejiofor is Lola, the drag queen who designs the new kinky boots and inspires the straitlaced Charlie.  It's a fun little movie, neither long nor provocative nor kinky, despite its title.

I also read The Steel Remains by Richard K. Morgan, a middling, swords-and-sandals high fantasy polluted with a touch of science fiction.  The fight scenes are pretty good and the main characters are intriguing, but the story is a little weak and it ends with a blatant ploy to continue as a series.  There was rather more gay sex in it than I expected but that was kind of cool: having the main badass warrior character be gay.  So, good on you, TSR, for that anyway.

And now, back to True Blood!