Showing posts from July, 2021

Recent Reading Roundup 54

I've been on holiday this last week (after getting on a plane! and traveling to a foreign country!) which has involved a lot of reading. I'll have more to say about the books I've read during this vacation in the coming weeks, but before I get to them, I wanted to clear the decks of reviews that have been sitting in my edit tab for quite some time, covering most the current year. Several of these books will be on my year's best list, and I'm glad I don't have to wait any longer to tell you about them. Famous Men Who Never Lived by K Chess - If you wanted to craft an elevator pitch for this novel, it might run something like " Exit West meets Station Eleven ". In Chess's debut novel, parallel universes exist, and three years ago, one of them suffered a catastrophic nuclear attack that left much of the US uninhabitable. Scientists at a New York research center were able to open a portal to our world, through which a hundred and fifty thousand refug

It's Not TV, It's MCU: Thoughts on Loki

When the newly-formed behemoth that was Marvel-Disney announced a full slate of MCU-based TV shows to be streamed exclusively on Disney+, the declaration carried the implicit promise that these new shows would be more closely in line with the MCU movies. The Marvel TV arm had existed for nearly a decade, but its products ran the gamut from forays whose initial promise faded into limp, underperforming slogs (the Defenders shows) to hidden gems with no support from the head office ( Cloak & Dagger ) to utterly misjudged turkeys ( Inhumans ). Now, Kevin Feige and his team of wizards seemed to be promising, the same alchemy that had turned the MCU into the most influential pop culture phenomenon on the planet would be brought to bear on the television medium, with appropriately lavish budgets, movie stars on call, and perhaps most importantly, the same willingness to play with genre and formula that is one of the key components of the MCU's success. We're now six months into t

Black Widow

Black Widow is overdue. It's overdue since 2020, which is when the film was slated to be released before COVID shuffled movie schedules along with everything else. It's overdue since 2019, which is when its main character died a heroic death that turned her first solo foray into a prequel. It's overdue since 2016, which is when its story is set (specifically, between the next-to-last and last scenes of Captain America: Civil War ). It's overdue since 2012, which is when MCU fandom began clamoring for a movie starring Natasha Romanoff, after she became the breakout character of Avengers . And it is, arguably, overdue since 2008, which is when the architects of the MCU decided on a roadmap that did not include even a single movie headlined by a woman. This lateness contributes to the feeling one gets while watching Black Widow , that it is fundamentally inessential, more important for what it represents—the return of the MCU to movie theaters after a two-year absence; th