California Literary Review

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Best And Worst Movies Of 2011, Part 1

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July 14th, 2011

We the critics of the Fourth Wall – Julia Rhodes, Brett Davinger, and myself – devote this week to the discussion of our favorite (and least favorite) films released in 2011 so far. After careful consideration, each of us has selected a “Top 3″ and “Bottom 3″ for the year’s first half. Read along and see how our love and hate stack up against your own.

Bloody Sexy Things: Adapting Clive Barker

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June 28th, 2011

Clive Barker has lent his eyes and hands to virtually every medium, from page to the screen to the stage to the canvas to the console. However, film fans know him particularly as a horror master. There is so much undermined material for gifted fantasy filmmakers that perhaps we could dispense with further Candyman sequels and retire the Hellraiser juggernaut with contented hearts, and enjoy a Clive Barker renaissance clad in all new colors.

Day Late, Dollar Short, Solid Gold: “Dear Twilight…”

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June 8th, 2011

Somewhere in the Twilight cutting room, did the thought never stir that they could drag untold ranks of non-Twilight initiates into the theaters merely by cutting fan reactions into the regular trailers? I was working as a movie usher when New Moon came out, and I had grown people stepping out of ticket lines with money outstretched, offering outrageous sums of cash to buy my promotional New Moon t-shirt off my back. And believe me, it was not an excuse to peek at my trout belly. This is for real, people! Star Wars and Harry Potter premieres have nothing on this.

I Am NOT An Animal! (But I Play One In The Movies)

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May 27th, 2011

Putting animal antics into movies is a perennially popular way to cobble up a goofball family comedy on short notice. This is a distinctly separate practice than merely animating creatures from scratch, which has produced its own wonderful results in the past. Nowadays, however, the line between the two is blurring at an alarming rate, so much so that it scarcely seems worth the trouble of getting real animals to be in live-action movies at all. The increasing intrusion of computer generated animal behavior is really beginning to mar the magic.

What Is Best In Life? Not Conan 3D, Barring A Miracle

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May 3rd, 2011

Borne on the crest of the wind, I hear already the lamentation of women. Women whose dates have dragged them, possibly by the hair, to the late summer picture show. By now many of you know that Lionsgate will soon release a new film entitled Conan The Barbarian. Most of you will recall a cult classic by the same name from 1982, which was the breakout role of a certain Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The Weekly Listicle: Keeping It Simple With A ROBO-POCALYPSE!

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March 24th, 2011

This week, the big opener of note is the outrageous fantasy action epic Sucker Punch, which promises to blow its target audience away and bewilder the rest of the world. The only undeniable thing we can say now is that Zack Snyder is not planning on going anywhere. He seems pretty comfortable right where he’s […]

The Weekly Listicle: Parties For A New Year

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December 31st, 2010

In the spirit of celebration, we take a moment to remember some of our favorite movie parties. In some cases the party itself is one the audience might very much like to attend. In others it is a complete catastrophe, but still very entertaining to watch. So strap on your party hat and join me (Dan Fields) and William Bibbiani around the punch bowl.

The Weekly Listicle: Misleading Movie Titles

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December 3rd, 2010

Sometimes a movie’s title appears to be a secret known only to the writer. Sometimes it is based on a very subtle detail in the story, which only becomes clear after multiple viewings. Sometimes a flaw in the film’s execution simply fails to bring out the significance of the title. And sometimes movies just have stupid titles. This week, William Bibbiani and I (Dan Fields) meditate upon the sticky subject of Movie Naming.

The Weekly Listicle: Worlds Of Fancy And Other Wondrous Places

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November 19th, 2010

A cleverly rendered fantasy world has the power to make us believe astounding things, and to transport us to places we may never have imagined ourselves. In the history of film there have been countless attempts to take real-world places and performers outside the realm of what has been seen before, and into far-off lands where the amazing, the terrifying, and the marvelous lurk around every corner.

The Weekly Listicle: A Science Ficsticle

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November 12th, 2010

Color me unimpressed based on the trailers for Skyline. This week’s big release Skyline looks…well, it doesn’t look good. It stars Six Feet Under‘s Eric Balfour and Dexter‘s David Zayas, both of whom I enjoy. But when the trailer for your movie makes audience members wonder, “What video game is this for?” you have issues. […]

Book Review: Gauntlgrym: Neverwinter, Book 1 by R. A. Salvatore

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October 18th, 2010

One thing is clear: Salvatore is moving Drizzt ahead toward a new point in his life. He’s darker, more brooding, and full of a latent rage that threatens to explode at any time. This isn’t the same paladin-like Drizzt of previous books–he’s been damaged. Badly.

Book Review: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu

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September 21st, 2010

To label How to Live Safely as a human comedy is a bit of a stretch since many of the major characters are not human at all. These include TAMMY, a computer system with a “kind of sexy” curvilinear pixel configuration and low self-esteem, Phil, a software system copied from Microsoft Middle Manager 3.0 and Ed, a non-existent dog who is a “weird ontological entity that produces unconditional slobbery loyal affection.”

The Weekly Listicle: Claustro-MANIA!

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September 16th, 2010

Take some deep breaths, movie fans – we’re going in. This weekend’s new shocker, Devil, appears to feature a bunch of hapless folks trapped in a dark elevator with something quite nasty. Later this season, we will also be getting Buried, concerning a man negotiating for his life while buried in a box underground. Claustrophobia […]

Book Review: Lucy by Laurence Gonzales

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July 28th, 2010

Lucy, half human, half bonobo monkey, was genetically engineered by her scientist father, so that “humans can be moved into a more favorable spot in the evolutionary matrix, a position in which we may enjoy some of the superior qualities of our bonobo cousins.” His mission was to create “a new race of people, more like the bonobo but with human intelligence and language—therefore better suited to living in harmony with nature.”

Whole Lotta Lovecraft: del Toro on deck?

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July 7th, 2010

An adaptation of H. P. Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness is in the works, with Guillermo del Toro slated to direct from his own script. Separated by a century, these two men share the power to fill us with wonder and dread. It is time they shook hands.

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