While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!
As you all know, we have been looking forward to this movie, and our book club went together opening weekend. And boy, was it everything we were hoping it would be. The visuals were stunning, the character additions were mostly perfect (specifically Stanley Tucci’s harpsichord Maestro, who is the husband of Audra McDonald’s Madame Garderobe), and they fixed some pesky little plot holes from the original. Some of the new songs were hit and miss, but Dan Steven’s “Evermore” was a worthy addition to an already amazing soundtrack. Emma Watson is as charming as ever, but Luke Evan’s Gaston was the real surprise performance, adding a deeper level of cunning malevolence to the character. For those who are nervous, this movie doesn’t disappoint and it is best served if seen on the big screen where the sweeping sets and large musical numbers can be fully appreciated.
Can I just cry instead of type? Does unabashed raw emotion count as a blurb? Look, I knew what I was getting into with this movie. The previews themselves set us up for a more tonally dark movie, it has an “R” rating, and we’ve all heard by now that this was likely going to be Hugh Jackman’s and Patrick Stewart’s final hurrah as these characters. But I was not prepared! Not for all the feelings! And not for all great the movie itself was going to be. I didn’t dislike the previous two Wolverine movies (though…that first one..), but this was in a category of its own. Not only as an X-Men movie, but as a superhero movie all together. I won’t say it was the best one ever (though it may be), but I do think it is a gamechanger for what superhero movies can be going forward. This proves a very important point: they can simply be good movies, superheros and abilities aside, with real characters, real stakes, and real drama. Ok, I got some words out. Now back to crying.
For a complete switch of tone, the same week I went to “Logan,” I also squeezed in “Kong: Skull Island.” Which, as much as I loved “Logan” was a bit cathartic really. This movie is unadulterated fun. While I haven’t jumped on the hate train for Peter Jackson’s re-make a decade ago, this movie approaches the classic tale with stronger eye on monster-bashing good times and less on heart-wrenching tragedy. Kong is the king of this movie in every way. As the second movie to be released in this rebooted “monster world” (“Godzilla” from a few years ago was the first), “Kong” continues to set the stage of a world where amazing creatures exist beneath our world. I particularly enjoyed how much screen time Kong himself got. One of my bigger criticisms of “Godzilla” was how long it takes to see him and then how little there really is in total. Here, the human characters are probably the least fleshed out, but that feels more correct for the type of story this is setting out to tell. All in all, if you love blockbuster action flicks, this one is definitely worth checking out on a larger screen.
For the record, “Kong: Skull Island” is fabulous. But I have something else. As someone who enjoys a good horror story, and who also really enjoys the podcast “Serial”, when I discovered that a horror, “Serial”-esque podcast existed I was STOKED! “The Black Tapes” is a docudrama (fictional) hosted by a woman named Alex Regan, whose focus is on “Evangelical Skeptic” Dr. Richard Strand. Though he’s debunked a number of ‘supernatural’ events, there are a few cases he can’t explain, those he calls ‘the black tapes’. This show starts out like a “This American Life” episode, but turns into a conspiracy laden, “X-Files” echoing, demon and ghost fest! It’s well researched, addictive, and incredibly scary at times. I LOVE it, but I can’t listen to it at night, especially if my house is empty…
Speaking of things that I can’t do after dark when I’m home alone, I bring you the scariest video game I’ve played in a long time: “Resident Evil 7”. Unlike the notorious plot of many of its predecessors, Raccoon City, Umbrella Corps, and their zombie virus aren’t really in the forefront. Instead, you find yourself in a backwoods bayou setting when you start the game as Ethan, a man looking for his lost wife. It’s also first person now, which is incredibly immersive. Which means it’s both awesome and horrifying. I got through the first board, my husband laughing at me as I screamed my head off throughout the whole thing, and then had to turn it off and turn to happier things. So make no mistake, this game is awesome and a GREAT addition to the “Resident Evil” franchise. It’s just really, really scary.
Also! March means that our blog has been online for one year! In celebration of this, we are going to be having a HUGE giveaway this week!!! You will have the chance to win not one, not two, but FOUR BOOKS! Because it’s our blog’s birthday, and we want to give YOU gifts! So tune in tomorrow, because all the deets will be revealed then!