It Must Be Review Week – Guardians of the Galaxy Time

So, yes, I popped into Tesco last night and picked up a cheap copy of Frozen and the Blue-ray of Guardians of the Galaxy. And since I’m in the mood and there are some Aneka-ish things to discuss in there…

On the whole I was disappointed. Not in a ‘this movie sucks big time, I wasted my money, I want a refund’ way, just in a way I should have expected: the movie was hyped up to the earlobes and there was no way it was going to meet expectations. The difference here is that Guardians was hyped by the fans. I feel parallels with Star Wars, actually. I have a feeling that there is a real lack of space opera in films and anything filing that hole is going to be greeted with over-enthusiastic fandom. I do think the sequel could well be awesome, but this movie was about as good as I’d expect from a film which has to introduce 5 characters from scratch. It dragged. A lot in places.

On the other hand, Zoe Saldana was hot, even in cool colours. (Yes, I’ve been working on that joke for hours.)

The parallels with the Aneka books should be obvious really, though they aren’t as strong as they might first appear. A friend who read Steel Beneath the Skin commented that she was expecting Aneka to have been born later, a little in the future. Of course, the reason Aneka has to be from now (more or less) is that she is our eyes and ears on the world of the future. Her previous experiences are ours and her reactions to her new home are (similar to) ours. Peter Quill, aka StarLord, is also kidnapped from Earth and ends up in a strange land, but the main reason for doing that is to drop in 1970s music and modern cultural references for the aliens to not understand. Quill already knows all the things that Aneka is there to educate the reader on. Of course, the assumed audience for Guardians already knows the setting, so that kind of thing isn’t really necessary, is it… Well, I’ve read a few comics and I was still kind of lost on who was what and why half the time. It’s a shame, because I think there’s a lot of background here I’d probably enjoy. Well, okay… I turn off my brain for most movies, why not this one.

Arise – The Major is Back

So, it may come as no big surprise that one of the influences on the Aneka books is Ghost in the Shell. I’ve seen both movies, even read one of the Manga comics, but the animated series Stand Alone Complex is my favourite and the basis for the characters in that has always been the way I think of them. Rise and I Can’t Be Cool from the second series soundtrack are still on my playlist.

For those unfamiliar (there are any reading this?) GitS is the story of Major Motoko Kusanagi, a full-body cyborg and wizard-class hacker, and her team in Public Security Section 9. Section 9 deals with cybercrime, proactively where possible, and they do so using a lot of weaponry along with their military and hacking skills. Moyoko, “The Major,” is one of the absolutely classic kick-ass heroines, but her story is also about identity and what it means to be human when most of your body is cybernetic. Sound familiar? (Actually, Aneka and Motoko would probably not see eye-to-eye on the matter, but I think that’s a matter of perception.)

And now we have a new entry in the GitS reality: Ghost in the Shell Arise. This is a “re-imagining” of the existing universe, changing a few starting points and then running with it (a bit like the recent Star Trek reboot in a way). The aim is to show how the Major put her team together, explain the characters, etc. The first two episodes, Ghost Pain and Ghost Whispers, are out on Blue-ray and DVD and I watched them last night after Amazon delivered them into my hot little hands.

I liked them and if you’ve never tried GitS, or even Animae, then this is a pretty good place to start. The original books and films are a little on the inaccessible side, but still a bit more western in outlook than many of the genre. GitS: SAC is one of the few Japanese animated series I consistently like and re-watch and it looks like Arise is going to fit right in. Plus, since this is starting from scratch, so to speak, you don’t need to worry about knowing anything about the characters.

I’m not totally keen on some of the character redesigns, and I wish they’d got the same actor to do Aramaki’s voice as in the old versions. Motoko’s voice has changed too, though not so drastically and I can get used to that one. I liked the two episodes so far, and it’s nice to see Section 9 back in action.

My ToDo List

So, I’ve got some time off the day job and my ToDo list for the next 5 days looks like this:

  • Write 15,000 words in 4 days so I can claim another win at NaNoWriMo. Then never do it again!
  • Do final edit on Steal Heart, then publish on Sunday.
  • Sort out my tax returns.
  • Watch Despicable Me 2 and RED 2 on Blue-Ray.

Thankfully, I have no life and can probably fit it all in.