May 01, 2008

Notes From A DVD Geek

by Jeremy Lassen

I’m going to cover some old ground with this one, but the really high profile new release last month was "I Am Legend". I’ve gone on about this one before, but I figure I’d mention some of the interesting bits about this release. The two-disk special includes the “original” ending that actually speaks to the source material, and addresses the problems I had with the first half of the movie, and the intelligence of the zombie/vampires. It’s still not a very good movie in my opinion, but it’s not as bad as the theatrical version, which is also included with the DVD.

Speaking of Bad Adaptations, "The Golden Compass" came out at the end of last month. It’s got a nice CGI polar bear battle, anyway.

Another big SF franchise hitting DVD this month is "Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem". The word on the street is that this one isn’t as bad as the original "Alien Vs. Predator" movie. That’s high praise indeed.

Another adaptation that just hit DVD is Tim Burton’s "Sweeny Todd". Neither of the leading actors can sing very well, and Burton manages to screw up the framing device, but hell . . . it's Sweeny Todd! Even Tim Burton can’t squeeze the goodness out of the source material.

On the good side of the DVD releases this month, there’s a two-disk 25th anniversary edition of "War Games". Would YOU like to play a game?

On the anime side of the shelf, the sequel to "KITE" just hit DVD. "KITE Liberator" follows high-school student Monaka as she becomes a feared and highly-skilled contract killer.

Two films from Spain to check out: one very high-profile movie just released was produced by Guillermo Del Toro: "The Orphanage". It got a wide theatrical release and a ton of well deserved positive reviews. On the opposite side of the spectrum is "Crazy Eights," a Spanish horror/exploitation film from the Afterdark Horrorfest series, starring Tracy Lords. "Crazy Eights" was released last year, so this isn’t one of Lord’s early efforts. But it’s got all the right moves for a gruesome little indy horror film. Check it out.

Another After Dark Horrorfest release is "Deaths of Ian Stone". I haven’t seen this one yet, but it’s a sort of slasher version of "Groundhog Day". Ian Stone must relive the day of his death, over and over until he solves his murder. I’m definitely looking forward to giving this one a watch.

And, finally, to the truly sublime part of this month's releases, we have "The Mist". This adaptation is very true to the original novella by Stephen King, and features top notch performances. It also has some really stunning fx work, and has an unbelievably grim ending. What’s not to like? This was one of my two favorite movies of the year last year, so I hope you’ll check it out. There’s a two disk special edition of this one that features an extensive mix of extras that are worth the extra $3.

April Bestsellers

1) Infected by Scott Sigler
2) Passage by Lois McMaster Bujold
3) The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
4) Small Favor by Jim Butcher
5) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
6) Starry Rift edited by Jonathan Strahan
7) Wit's End by Karen Joy Folwer
8) Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi
9) The Shadow Year by Jeffrey Ford
10) On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

1) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill tie with
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
2) Poison Sleep by T.A. Pratt
3) The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
4) Ravenous by Ray Garton
5 ) Hilldiggers by Neal Asher
6) Magic Burns by Ilona Andrews tie with
Snake Agent by Liz Williams
7) The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
8) Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan
9) The Demon and the City by Liz Williams
10) Judge by Karen Traviss

Trade Paperbacks
1) World War Z by Max Brooks
2) Wastelands edited by John Joseph Adams
3) Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks
4) Steampunk edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer
5) City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Books Without Borders

by Alan Beatts

This is the second in a four-part series of stories about changes in the book world. In part one I gave a quick overview of three major changes. In this part I'm going to focus on Borders Books and Music's recent financial problems and what they may mean for readers, writers and publishers over the next year or two. The final two columns will focus on's recent business changes and eBooks respectively. As always, comments are welcome at

First off, a quick disclaimer -- I don't like Borders. I like them better than Barnes & Noble but still, like any independent bookseller, I don't like them. Despite my intention to be as objective as possible in the article, I'm sure that my bias is going to creep in here and there. But, if you were looking for objective, dispassionate news, you wouldn't be reading this. I'm going to start with what has been going on with Borders over the past year, then I'm going to talk about the implications, and I'll finish off with the reasons that it matters to everyone who loves books.