Month in Media: January 2017 [#5]

It may be a new year but the monthly updates on my media consumption shall continue as unabated as ever. So, realistically, about 1-in-3 actually get published? Well, actually, I'm hoping that a certain new challenge will result in MiMs having a bit more urgency. Of course, it may also mean I spend less time writing reviews... only time will tell.

In the meantime, however, January has certainly seen my media consumption in 2017 get off to a flying start. We finally caved and bought a TV license, so have been catching up on plenty of the BBC's offerings, plus I've set myself a personal goal of reading more this year which has worked out so far. On top of both those elements, January is the month of Wintereenmas, which means I actually set aside some dedicated time for gaming. Largely this was just delving back into various multiplayer modes (think CS:S) but I did take a step back into storeyed games and, my word, did I enjoy it.

Update 13/06/2020: With the launch of the reviews section all content has been migrated to new pages (see links below). Please refer to that section for updates, records, and more Month in Media content. This article can be considered "archived" and only kept to preserve URLs and non-review content.

Films

The Hateful Eight

tl;dr: The first half proves Tarantino is the master of suspense, whilst the second half throws it all away for a healthy dose of hyper violence. Fun but could have been so much better.

The Five-Year Engagement

tl;dr: Wonderfully funny and nicely composed, a thoroughly enjoyable movie. Also: aye yay-ay-yay-ay-yay-ay-yay-yaaaaaa!

Hamlet (w/ Maxine Peak)

tl;dr: A fantastic Hamlet, with some interestingly modern tweaks that largely hits the mark.

JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time

tl;dr: Fun enough but not really anything new or particularly interesting.

Zootopia [rewatch]

tl;dr: As powerful as the first viewing and possibly even funnier, a stand-out film of 2016 and one of Disney's finest all round. An instant classic.

Justice League: DOOM

tl;dr: A solid film with a couple of plot holes. If you're willing to wave these as standard comic book thinking then the remainder is highly enjoyable.

Ender's Game

tl;dr: Read the book; it's a story that deserves to be experienced unadulterated. If you have done so, there isn't much more for you here.

Dirty Grandpa

tl;dr: Don't bother. The humour falls flat and the story clearly never got beyond a draft stage. The entire film feels rushed and empty, with no memorable moments to speak of.

Lucy

tl;dr: Not as bad as anticipated but still not overly worthwhile.

Battleship

tl;dr: Not quite so-bad-it's-good, but close - a crazy attempt to turn a pretty linear board game into a movie which largely misses but occasionally lands a hit (yeah, Battleships reference).

Interstellar

tl;dr: A fun enough romp that lacks Nolan's signature intelligence whilst skirting around the much more interesting story occurring in the background.

Hardcore Henry

tl;dr: Gamers will get a few laughs and find the mix of gaming pastiches in a movie interesting enough but there isn't much more to recommend this one trick pony.

La La Land

tl;dr: A wonderful mashup of homages, genres and styles held tightly together by a clever story, brilliant performances and one of the best original musical soundtracks in years.

TV

Doctor Who: The Return of Doctor Mysterio

tl;dr: Certainly not must-watch TV but a welcome return to a more humorous, self-contained version of the classic sci-fi show.

QI (Season N)

tl;dr: Toksvig simultaneously makes it feel like nothing has changed, whilst subtly reinvigorating the classic franchise.

The Entire Universe

tl;dr: A disjointed meshing of concepts that may have worked on paper but suffered in production. Definitely give it a miss.

Sherlock (Season 4)

tl;dr: A continuing masterpiece that hits the ground running, slips a bit and then rises to the challenge magnificently. There have been few shows to rival Sherlock in the history of television - long may it continue.

Books

Treasure (A Dirk Pitt novel) by Clive Cussler

tl;dr: It’s a Dirk Pitt novel. That should tell you everything you need to know, except this one has a more interesting villain than normal.

Pacific Vortex (A Dirk Pitt novel) by Clive Cussler

tl;dr: A clear prototype for what would become the long-running Dirk Pitt series with little of novel interest. A page-turner, nothing more.

A Natural History of Dragons (A Lady Trent Memoir) by Marie Brennan

tl;dr: A wonderfully illustrated and surprisingly detailed world of fantastic creatures; a great work of fantasy with strong characterisation and some genuinely interesting speculative biology. An instant favourite franchise.

Bill Bryson’s African Diary by Bill Bryson

tl;dr: Funny and informative, plus all for a good cause. Can’t really complain.

Video Games

Portal 2

tl;dr: A more than worthy successor, with brilliant voice acting, intelligent level design and some very fun new game mechanics.

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