What’s this? A middle grade book, right on this very blog?
I decided to check this out for a variety of complex reasons, including a) it was on sale b) it has a nice cover and c) it’s sort of vaguely similar to something I’m writing right now if you squint a bit. This is the kind of sophisticated reading you can only get here on Doing In The Wizard.
Last Summer I reviewed The Last Of Us and declared it to be the bee’s knees. Then it went on to win approximately eleven thousand awards, proving that my judgement in all things is infallible.
Now we’ve got a short DLC cherry to top off the main game, but is it a needless bit of fluff or a game-changing experience that not only surpasses the original but might count as one of the freshest and most artistically honest products to ever come out of a AAA developer?
(Yeah it’s that second one)
Yes, you there with the smartphone. Do you like twitter? And Facebook? And Google? Well then you’re a horrible, empty shell of a person and Dave Egger wants you to get off his lawn. And if you let him, he’ll spend an entire novel explaining why.
It’s hard to remember now, but the original Assassin’s Creed was a fairly big disappointment. After being hyped to the moon as one of the first next-gen blockbusters the game met with a fairly lukewarm reception. Like many early console generation titles it came off as a good idea that the developers hadn’t quite gotten a handle on yet. For a while it was looking fairly dicey that the game would get a sequel.
Then it did, Assassin’s Creed II was much better received and there are now so many sequels and mobile spin-offs I’m having trouble keeping track of them all. I haven’t played any of them since the second game, since I had some fairly fundamental complaints with the core gameplay of the series that none of the sequels looked like they were interested in fixing. Then I started to hear some absurdly good reactions to Black Flag, which got me interested enough to see if my gripes with the AssCreed formula had finally been fixed.
Frozen is a movie that came out against a hefty river of backlash, partially because it was saddled with a breath-takingly awful and misleading marketing campaign seemingly designed to make it look as much as possible like the sort shallow, pop-culture obsessed filler Dreamworks would put out on a bad day but also because the thematic content of Disney’s films (and particularly its more girl-oriented “princess” films, of which this is one) have been frequently called out for consistently hewing to fairly regressive gender roles.
I’ve seen some audiences and critics hail the house of mouse’s latest effort, a story very loosely inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, as a complete and total revolution for the company, a full repudiation of the old days and even as a new feminist beacon in children’s entertainment. All of that is overstating things hugely- there is ultimately nothing in a surface level reading of Frozen that isn’t going to sit right at home with Disney’s traditional normative family audience- but it does represent a welcome shift in focus and directly takes pot-shots at one of the stalest and most old fashioned of the Disney aesops while presenting some subtext that’s a bit unexpected for the company (and if you’re willing to look even further and engage in a little speculation, some subtext that’s way unexpected for the company) while also being for the most part a wonderfully entertaining little fairytale musical.
During a routine upgrade on the Hubble Space Telescope a Russian spy satellite explodes (Russians now being the default villains in popular media again), creating an expanding cloud of debris that imperils our two all-American astronauts Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) and Space George Clooney (George Clooney). What follows is essentially Murphy’s law: The Movie as spaceships explode, air and fuel runs out, things that are supposed to be tethered together become un-tethered, fires start and the debris cloud swings by for another visit, all at the worst possible moment. In the middle of all of this Ryan and Space George Clooney attempt to survive and make it back to Earth in spite of how obviously fucked they are.