Robert Wm. Gomez's

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie (6/10)

Once again, I am off in search of fantasy books to match the greatness of the A Song of Fire and Ice series. Amazon seemed to think this book was up to the challenge, so I decided to give it a try. While it has some of the gritty edge of Martin's books, this novel really fell short. The plot is at times very dull and lacks any sort of larger story arc that one would expect from an epic trilogy. Most of the time is spent establishing the characters.

Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus (5/10)

This film was next in line in my recent rash of bad movies: Troll 2... Birdemic. Unlike those Legendary crap fests, this made-for-TV feature is a little too self aware. Sure the stilted love affair between Debbie Gibson and the Japanese scientist is epic, and the submarine battles defy all logic, but there is just a general lack of enthusiasm from the cast which keeps this from being at the same level of cheese as Plan 9, Birdemic, and the like.

Whip and the Body (8/10)

I finally got around to watching this highly regarded Mario Bava film and it is definitely one of his better efforts. I am not sure I love it as much as some his other films, but his work tends to grow on me with subsequent viewings. There is a lot to like about the style in this movie. The colored lighting and mood is, as usual, fantastic. Christopher Lee's hands should get a lifetime acheivement award at the next Oscars.

Megamind (6/10)

A typical post-Shrek CGI animated feature. This was the first modern 3-D movie I have seen in the theater. 3-D doesn't add much at all except in making the glass look more realistic and substantial. The character design is awful, especially for the Megamind character himself—looks like a Star Trek alien design as imagined by an 11-year old fan. The story is cliche but entertaining. If I see another computer animated cartoon that ends with a pop song and dance number I'm throwing my 64oz drink at the projection booth.

Financial Fiasco by Johan Norberg (7/10)

This book presents a history of the current financial crisis thingy in a way that tries to be as plain-spoken as possible. Some of the early banking and monetary policy issues are still a bit above my head but the book did provide some clarity for me. Remind me to never give out sub-prime home loans to deadbeats.

Hercules Against the Barbarians (5/10)

How's this for a novel concept: the reason Poles were able to defend their realm against the invading armies of Genghis Khan was that they had the super-human help of Hercules! This is one weird movie. Seing a muscle-bound man in a tiny loin cloth thing fighting alongside crusades era knights is quite jarring, as is the cast of burly white men playing the Mogol Asians. There is a great Hercules vs. rubber crocodile scene.

9th Company (7/10)

This is nothing you haven't seen a hundred times before in war movies. The Russian perspective of Afganistan is a bit of a change though.

Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera (4/10)

After watching this, I think I am pretty close to having seen all of Argento's films. I held off on this one for so long because I had heard it was bad. The DVD cover doesn't help the cause either. Yes, it's pretty bad (the cover and the movie). Although, I don't think it is quite as bad as Trauma. The plot is incoherent (honestly, it's downright stupid) even for an Argento movie. It just makes no sense at all. Well, I guess the cinematography is kinda pretty and I think Julian Sands' hair will haunt my dreams forever.

Best Worst Movie (8/10)

I've written about Troll 2 here before. Basically, Troll 2 is the epitome of a so-bad-it's-good movie. Best Worst Movie is a documentary that follows several of the principle actors and the director to explore how, after finding out the film has reached cult status, the movie has effected their lives.

Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson (9/10)

My post-Game of Thrones decent into pure phantasy nerdom continues with the Mistborn trilogy. This first book in the series is a well-plotted story and has some pretty memorable characters. The prose can be a bit mediocre or, at least, strangely repetitive at times—the characters all seem to be able to "raise an eyebrow" when they are thinking. Independent eyebrow control must be a high-level magick skill. However, overall it kept me interested throughout and it seemed to tie up loose ends nicely at the end.