Film Novelizations

The Search for the book that's better than the film

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

“‘The death toll now reaches twelve and a half in the tragedy of Hemery High School. It was at the senior dance five days ago that the school was beset by a roving gang of crack-crazed gunmen. Survivors say some two hundred of the ruffians laid the school gym under a kind of siege, claiming several lives in the process.’”

This should be short. I really don’t have much to say about this one. I started reading, I consumed 2.5 beers. I finished reading. According to IMDB, the movie is 86 minutes long. According to me, that seems about right for the book, if you read like me (which is not very fast at all). I only really have 3 questions:
1. Why is it called the senior dance and not senior prom? Regional colloquialism or did the use of “prom” really take over after 1992?
2. The cover shows the villain playing a violin. Never happens in the book. What gives?
3. Twelve and a half people died?

The book is very 90’s, with all the girls’ dialogue being mostly a mixture of gibberish and sarcastic vapidity. What’s more important than training to fight vampires? A makeover for the old, poorly-dressed man, obviously. It’s basically Clueless with vampires. I guess it was funny at the time.

I can’t decide if this is the best or worst novelization. It’s not poorly written and it’s not very interesting writing. It just is. It’s the most “this is what reading this movie would be like” novelization I’ve read, if that makes sense. I guess that makes it a good novelization and a terrible book. Whatever.

Good Burger 2 Go

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"From behind his dingy fast-food counter, the young employee stared at his customer through large brown eyes. The customer stared back at him from behind the thick pair of bifocals that balanced precariously at the end of his pointed nose. His bald and ancient face hung slack with an expression of shock and horror. The Good Burger employee was used to this look; he could handle it. He was calm. He was cool. His name was Ed, and he wasn’t wearing any pants."

Okay, so I found this book at a Goodwill yesterday and immediately thought, “fuck it. This counts.” If they had made a second movie, this would be it. So I bought it, and imagined it would be terrible and that I would just pretend it’s the greatest book ever written to be funny. But actually, Good Burger 2 Go is just pretty funny. It’s certainly the best book I’ve ever read about two fast-food employees chasing down a wealthy customer and accidentally ending up in Paris where they meet a mime and get kidnapped to Germany where they escape and steal a hot air balloon that they crash in Egypt then get arrested for kidnapping the wealthy customer. Don’t worry though. They were just framed by the wealthy man’s nephew. They just wanted to return 18 cents to the wealthy man. He had left Good Burger without his change.

The plot, as you can see, has 90’s kids’ movie sequel written all over it. It’s goofy and preposterous, and it’s just an excuse to put the characters in different situations so they can make some obvious jokes. However, Steve Holland goes beyond that pretty often. When I started reading the book, I had a strange thought that if I had to write this book, I’d put random footnotes throughout to make little jokes. 21 pages later, Steve Holland did exactly that. It might have freaked me out a little. So, for example, the second footnote was on the sentence, “Paris, the city of lights.” The footnote adds, “also, but slightly less well known, the city of French people.” There’s 8 completely pointless footnotes throughout this short book. It made me happy.

As I mentioned earlier, they meet a mime in Paris. The mime is always described as beautiful, as she’s Ed’s love interest throughout. Where he normally has trouble understanding people because they’re talking, he understands her perfectly because she’s miming. Anyway, I want to share my favorite paragraph, from the part where she is introduced.

"Mimes have had a long and troubled history ever since they set off to perform on street corners and parks and children’s birthday parties to prove to the world that they were more than just silent clowns, they were¬†artists. They failed miserably, and it didn’t take long before mimes became the most used punch line in all the world.”

Shortly after they become friends with the mime, they run across a Le Good Burger and I had to take this picture to share with friends immediately.
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Now, if you’re the type that likes to get drunk and read ridiculous things, this book is perfect. You can get it for a penny on Amazon. You’ll pay $3.99 for shipping, but you’ll end up spending more than that for the beer you’ll be drinking, so what’s the problem? You don’t have $4 to throw away on a novel sequel to Good Burger? Bullshit.

If you’re not the type to get drunk and read ridiculous things, then I’m sorry I have wasted your time. I don’t know what you’re doing here.

Catwoman

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"That night Patience fell into a troubled sleep of confused dreams in which the moon raced across a violet sky and small, swiftly moving creatures only half-glimpsed, leaped and fought mock battles at the edge of a sluggish river where cattails and tall reeds rustled in the night wind."

Bullshit. This book is bullshit. I started reading this book in early December. Before that, I was reading these novelizations relatively quickly (relatively!), but this one is fucking torturous. I’ve read one of Elizabeth Hand’s novelizations already, and I should have read my review before I started this one, but I’m a little glad I didn’t. For reference, 12 Monkeys. Now…

1. In the previous review, I complained of being so exhausted by the writer’s style that I quit reading for at least a month. This time, I quit for about 3 months. So…

2. I don’t always keep track of an author’s use of “myriad” because some authors don’t use the word. I usually keep track of something a writer uses more frequently than I think is normal (and I swear, one day I will reread the Song of Ice and Fire series just to mark all the uses of “small wonder” because it rivals the death), so I think it’s funny I kept track of “myriad” again. Again, she really didn’t use it that much for a 275-page book, but that’s my hang-up.

3. I didn’t notice a lot of sentence fragments, so Hand stopped doing that or I stopped noticing it because I’m getting accustomed to it.

As for the book, it’s at least 49 pages too long. And the prologue is completely useless. Including the prologue, there are four sections in the book that are just old bullshit cat stories. The second one, which consumes 20 pages and 98% of chapter 17, is where I first got stuck for months. Basically, Patience Phillips receives a book from Ophelia Powers about cat lore, and though she has urgent shit to deal with, she just sits down and reads the book. 3 times. And each time, the entire text of what she reads is in the book, so I read it too. And none of it adds anything that would be missed. Let’s destroy the pacing of the story to start at the beginning of another story three fucking times! Because why not? Will the main character learn anything or even acknowledge the stories she read in the book from the old woman? No? Even better!

Everything about this book is terrible. The story is absurd, even forgiving the woman being brought back to life by a cat and gaining cat powers because this is Catwoman. The characters got their names from the George Lucas school of pulling a name and an adjective out of an over-sized foam cowboy hat. Patience Phillips. Tom Lone. Ophelia Powers. Fuck that. There are cliches on every page. The one-liners are abundant and not amusing. Of course the female comic book anti-hero takes on a cosmetics corporation.

Elizabeth Hand can’t be blamed for all of the problems. She can only be blamed for taking an obviously terrible script and not making fun of it for less that 200 pages. Why does it have to be taken seriously? You read the script, you see the names, plot, and terrible one-liners, and you don’t just make a joke of it? Why would you take your job so seriously if your job was adapting Catwoman into a novel? Have fun with it. No one will notice for at least 10 years.

Howard the Duck


"Certain parents would claim Howard the (of all things) Duck capable of corrupting their children and advancing the cause of Satan in the modern world. Yes, that Satan!”

I love this book. It has its problems, which I’ll get to in a minute, but first I can’t wait to say this is probably the best film novelization you are likely to find. I haven’t read them all (yet), so I throw that “probably” in there to leave room for challengers. As it is, Ellis Weiner is just a funny writer who recognized a terrible script and just did whatever the hell he wanted with it. There are several rambling tangents that he goes on whenever he feels like it. Some of these are marked off as “Coverage In Depth Inserts” where he will ramble about politics and government waste or why a character dresses the way he does for several pages, and they are mostly funny. Other times, he will go into the entire backstory of a character for several pages, but the character is just an Extra in the film. He might have one line in the script, but there’s several pages dedicated to who he is as a person in the book.

The first chapter might be the greatest first chapter ever written. It starts with The Universe, or God, or whatever you want to call it, talking IN ALL CAPS. Soon, the narrator interrupts and basically insults God for trying to be Carl Sagan in a Howard the Duck book. The narrator argues with GOD/THE UNIVERSE for a few pages, before deciding to ignore it and get on with Howard the Duck. GOD/THE UNIVERSE’S interruptions into the Narrator’s story become less frequent throughout the chapter, which is a decent introduction into the life of Howard the Duck, of Duck World. As Howard the Duck is mysteriously transported to Earth, he comments on how lonely it is in space. GOD/THE UNIVERSE responds and they have a brief conversation about this unfair bullshit that is happening to Howard. It’s fucking bizarre and I love it.

In the middle of the big climax, after the female lead has been kidnapped by the scientist possessed by The Dark Overlord of the Universe, there’s an entire page dedicated to her thoughts on celebrity names, like “what the hell kind of name is Sigourney?” and “how could there actually be a guy named Armand Hammer? Was that supposed to be some kind of amazing coincidence, that an oil millionaire was named after a box of baking soda? Were his parents kidding, or what—” The book is full of these ridiculous little tangents about anything.

There are multiple jokes about the book itself as well. There’s a point near the end where Ellis Weiner points how implausible the whole plot of the book is, then for good measure puts, “THE ENTIRE STORY OF HOWARD THE DUCK COULD BE SAID TO LACK A CERTAIN DEGREE OF CREDIBILITY.” Seriously. In all caps. My favorite example is his mockery of standard film/tv tropes. At the aftermath of the diner scene, he mentions all the police, ambulances, fire trucks and tv reporters, and then has this wonderful paragraph about a certain trope you should be familiar with…

"Also on hand, pointing in wonder and shielding their children on cue, was a crack squad of Para-Bystanders. Their job: to gather in a cluster and looked (sic) appalled or fascinated whenever ordinary bystanders were unavailable. At remote locations. In inclement weather. Whenever a public event required an innocent group of observers and secondary victims, the Para-Bystanders were there. It is to them, in sincere appreciation for their dedication and skill in the cause of bystanding, that parts of this book are gratefully dedicated."

Now, my problems with this book are pretty much limited to the duck/bird puns, which are abundant. Some of them are funny. The best use of them is in one of the “Coverage In Depth Inserts” where he talks about the books that Howard read that shaped his personal philosophy. But the only reason I like them here is because of the one that isn’t changed. First the was The Fountainhen, then Hatcher in the Rye and Hatch 22. And then there’s just One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

I wish I had counted the puns as I read. I imagine it almost averages out to one per page. I get the appeal and desire to make these jokes. Sometimes they are mildly amusing. But it bothers me that there’s a parallel universe that appears to be pun-centric. I’m okay with a parallel universe where ducks evolved into the intelligent, dominant species, and the world is just like Earth. But then everything has a duck pun in it. James Bond is James Pond. United States of America is United Drakes of America. philharmonic is billharmonic. Macanudos are Quackanudos. So on. If humans were prone to naming everything, literally everything, with some sort of ape pun, I might find this more amusing, as a way of mocking our tendency to name everything with a pun. We don’t do that. Neither should the ducks. It might have been funnier if some jackass kept making duck puns at Howard and was put in his proper jackass place for his assumption that everything on Duck World involved puns.

To his credit, Ellis Weiner pretty much does just that on page 73. Some jackass makes a duck joke at Howard, and the narrator says, “he was starting to get a little tired of the duck jokes. Who isn’t?” But there’s still almost 160 pages after that full of duck puns, so I don’t know how tired he was of writing duck jokes.

So the puns aren’t nearly annoying enough to dismiss the book. Ellis Weiner is funny enough that the puns don’t really matter. If the puns were the only jokes in a more strict novelization of the script, I would probably write hate mail to the publisher.

Finally, there’s two things I want to share with you. First there’s this paragraph in the climax, which I scanned because…

And second, there’s a point in the book where Howard buys children’s clothes at a Goodwill using money from Duck World. Now, I bought this book at a Goodwill using money from Earth. Coincidence? Obviously.

You should probably read this, or maybe something else Ellis Weiner wrote. I’ll probably order another of his books before I go to sleep tonight, because I’m drunk and fighting the part of my brain that knows I already have too many books I haven’t read yet. “What’s one more, really? Plus, you have to get the latest John Swartzwelder book anyway.” I won’t let you know what wins, because it doesn’t matter.

Men in Black

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"The ka-boom! was real loud as it bounced off the walls and floor and ceiling.”

The first thing I’d like to mention was that I found the previous owner’s bookmark between pages 12 and 13. I really wasn’t a fan of the writing at this point either, but seriously, how can you give up after so few pages?

All the things I liked about this book were the things that were different in the movie. Like the scene in the movie when Kay drives the car upside down in the tunnel. Jay, neglecting his seat-belt, ends up on the roof of the car, struggling to right himself. Kay casually puts on an Elvis 8-track, tells Jay he needs to learn to relax and starts enjoying the music. When Jay finally gets flipped over, he says, “you do know Elvis is dead, right?” Kay responds, “no, Elvis is not dead. He just went home.” This joke has such a terrible, flimsy setup that it bothers me to no end. It would make sense if Kay had said something about Elvis being the greatest living musician. The joke still wouldn’t be funny. It would just make more sense. As it is, I’m left wondering why Jay thinks that’s a thing anyone would ever need to point out. Does he think it’s illegal to listen to the music of dead artists? I don’t know. Anyway, Steve Perry cut out this pointless, shitty joke and I thank him for it.

However, he’s still not a great writer. He’s very obviously a huge fan of Douglas Adams, and like many of us, he wishes he could write like Adams. Unfortunately, he can’t. I can’t really fault him much for trying in a book about aliens. It does at least make the scenes where the bug in the Edgar suit is the main character a little more interesting. He just isn’t very funny or terribly original. Because the bug (actually named Kerb) uses an in-ear universal translator so he can understand English. He didn’t have to bother with that. I never wondered how the more advanced, more intelligent bug understood English when I watched the movie because presumably the more advanced, more intelligent bug had no problem learning the language. It’s one of those things that doesn’t matter unless you call attention to it. If you call attention to it, maybe you should come up with something better than an electronic babel fish.

"He was uglier than an NBA pro basketball player in a tight pink dress."

Here is a very simple example of everything wrong with Steve Perry’s writing. This is part of his description of Kerb after he rips off the Edgar suit. Is this the ugliest thing he could think of? It’s redundant. Are NBA pro basketball players uglier than NBA amateur basketball players? Are NBA pro basketball players prettier when their dresses are loose and purple? What kind of standard for ugly is this? It is extremely easy to think of countless things uglier than this. But to Steve Perry, the NBA pro basketball players are just a step ahead of the enormous, drooling alien roaches with stingers dripping poison.

Steve Perry typically fails at describing anything in an interesting way, really. From “the ka-boom! was real loud,” to “must be one of them new laser jobs, probably had an infrared sight or something on it,” it’s just kind of lazy.

Here’s a fun fact that isn’t at all horrifying: Kay’s Ford LTD is similar to a bug zapper. When he takes Jay to talk to Jeebs, Jay warns him about the car being stripped in such a bad neighborhood. He mentions the alarm system and ignores Jay’s skepticism. Almost immediately after they enter the pawn shop, a car thief tries to open the door and he is immediately reduced to ash. After Kay and Jay are finished with Jeebs, Jay notices the car is untouched, but there are several piles of ash around it. So, while they were inside, blowing up alien heads and looking at alien weapons, the Men in Black’s Ford LTD murdered several people and left no trace of the crime except piles of ash. It’s supposed to be okay because they’re just criminals, but the death penalty is pretty harsh for stealing a car. And it’s not like the car can discriminate between thieves and anyone that happens to bump into it. Kay gives a very stern warning about touching the car when the alarm is activated.

Finally, I really wish he’d left out the epilogue. It’s the same thing that’s in the movie, where the camera pulls out to reveal our galaxy is just a marble in some Little Rascals-alien’s sack of marbles. First, he’s not good enough to write the reveal effectively, and includes the phrase “from the hundreds of miles into the eosphere.” Eosphere isn’t a thing, and this is probably just a typo of exosphere, but I can’t get over it. Second, the scene really calls attention to the fact that the whole plot of the movie is trivial. What’s so goddamn special about the galaxy that the other aliens are eager to destroy Earth to keep the bugs from getting it? Have aliens in our universe discovered a way to use galaxy marbles as very powerful weapons while aliens outside our universe use them for games? All the aliens in the book look down on humanity for our stupidity, but the whole premise is basically a game of keep-away, and the two jerks tossing the galaxy back and forth take their ball and go home when the third jerk happens to intercept it. They took my favorite marble, so naturally I napalmed someone else’s house and then murdered my friend because I’m so advanced. Fuck off, aliens, with your questionable motives. Cut this out, and the book ends where it needs to end.

Jingle All the Way

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"Everywhere he looked there were balls — big balls, little balls, red balls, green balls, yellow balls, every color, every size, everywhere!"

So this is a quick read, being a kid’s book that’s barely more than 100 pages. There’s really nothing terrible to say about the writers either. They adequately transformed a script about a man breaking several laws to acquire a toy on Christmas Eve into a novel for kids. I don’t know why the wife expected her workaholic husband prone to neglecting his family to get the goddamn toy in the first place, or why he doesn’t get arrested for all his crimes when the postal worker does, but I guess it would make for a much shorter, very boring book if he’d just bought the toy and had a normal, happy Christmas with his family. He’d have had to watch the parade though, and I’d have had to read it. The implausible Turbo Man fight with the postal worker was at least not a boring description of a tedious parade. Fuck parades.

I’m keeping this book. I have signed the last page, and should I ever have a child, this book will be the only thing the orphanage will have to give him/her from me.
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Batman and Robin

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"Swinging the clock aside, Dick entered the Batcave."

I just like the innuendo in that sentence, intentional or not. Anyway, I can’t tell you how glad I was to find this book. There’s really nothing terrible about Michael Jan Friedman’s writing either. Most of the problems come from the screenplay. He didn’t camp it up with plant and ice puns. He didn’t make the decision to make Bane into a mindless henchman that’s often forgotten about (more on that later). He didn’t change Barbara Gordon into Barbara Wilson so he could make her Alfred’s pseudo-niece. He didn’t disregard physics to make shit happen. He didn’t reduce Commissioner Gordon to two scenes in the second half of the book. All that shit was in the screenplay, and I can’t fault him for it.¬†

There’s really not much to fault him for. He uses the phrase “all of a sudden” more than I would, but I wouldn’t use it at all so I don’t know if that’s my hang up or his laziness. There’s a short section in chapter 7 where he details Alfred’s history with Barbara’s mom that’s utterly useless. Really, it just makes it seem weirder that Barbara considers him her uncle. He was a former lover of her mother. How many of your mother’s ex-boyfriends, from before she met your father, do you even know? He should have cut this out, as well as the prologue, which is useless except to set up a scene between Bruce Wayne and Victor Fries that really doesn’t need to come up later but it does anyway.

I wish I could have been there to see how drunk he had to get to write this scene though.

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I imagine he got to this part in the script and quit writing for several days. While on break, reconsidering his life choices that gave him the responsibility to write this novelization, he went to the movies. He saw Twister. He ate at The Cracker Barrel, remarking that the food they serve is not so difficult to make that he could not have done it himself for cheaper. He went bowling alone, but was kicked out for getting drunk on the tequila he usually keeps in his flask. Waking up in the street, hungover and covered in vomit, he resolved to do what he was paid to do. He stopped at the liquor store nearest his house and purchased the only cure for the type of hangover he had. And so it was that he sat down in his basement with a bottle of Evan Williams and a voice recorder. It would take experts a week to transcribe the drunken screams he recorded on the microcassette. An editor would later have to go back and delete the multiple instances of “GODDAMN YOU, AKIVA!” found in the transcribed text.

There’s one thing I rather like, though I wish he’d overdone it to an obnoxious degree. There’s a moment where Mr. Freeze is reflecting on the fact that his henchmen wouldn’t help him if they knew what he was planning. “But it was child’s play to hire henchmen in this city.” There’s only two sentences about it, but if I wrote this, it would be several pages worth of crap trying to explain how Mr. Freeze, or any Gotham villain really, managed to hire henchmen. Is unemployment in Gotham so terrible? Are there that many sociopaths that don’t mind not being the brilliant genius behind the destruction of their hometown? Is it really that easy to start a cult? Because what I’ve been doing is not working.

So, about Bane, why was he even in this? He’s just a mindless henchman. Batman didn’t even fight him. Robin and Batgirl defeat him, rather easily. In the setup for the climax. he helps Poison Ivy steal the Batsignal from the police headquarters. Later, he’s with Mr. Freeze, doing nothing that requires his strength, like planting explosives around the Gotham Observatory. There’s no explanation for when or why Poison Ivy dropped him off with Mr. Freeze. In this story, for whatever reason, he was her henchman. She would have defeated Batman, Robin and Batgirl if she hadn’t conveniently lent her protection to Mr. Freeze, who didn’t need it because he’d hired enough of his own henchmen. Then, during the big fight, Mr. Freeze orders him to kill Robin and Batgirl, but save Batman for him. He disappears. The good guys fight through henchmen. They fight Mr. Freeze. It’s not until Robin and Batgirl think they’re safe from the henchmen that Bane shows up. It’s a total waste. There’s no reason Bane had to be in this.

And now, what you came for. Here’s Mr. Freeze’s ice jokes, because of course I wrote them down.

  • The Iceman cometh.
  • I’m afraid that my condition has left me cold to your pleas.
  • A copsicle.
  • Bat on ice, anyone?
  • You’re not sending me to the cooler.
  • Caution, bridge may ice over.
  • What killed the dinosaurs? Why, the Ice Age, of course.
  • Freeze well, Batman.
  • How cold-blooded can you be?
  • To be frozen. To never change. A life of perfect ice-olation.
  • You are skating on thin ice. My passion thaws for one woman and one woman only.
  • Hop away, little Bunny. Before I cool your jets. Permanently.
  • All right. Everyone…chill!
  • Pheromone dust. Designed to heat a man’s blood—but it doesn’t work on the coldhearted.
  • Allow me to break the ice. My name is Freeze. Learn it well, for it is the chilling sound of your own doom.
  • Ahh. Chilled to perfection.
  • If revenge is a dish best served cold, then put on your Sunday finest, my friend. It’s time for a feast.
  • I guess the don’t know what’s good for them. Cops on rocks, anyone?
  • Not so fast. Time you cooled your heels.
  • Tonight’s forecast, a Freeze is coming!
  • We aim to freeze!
  • Prepare for a bitter harvest. Winter has come at last.

I would bet money that I missed some. I’m sure there’s more in the movie. But I was drunk most of the time. I’m not re-reading it just to double-check though.

EDIT: It’s a few days later now, and I’ve just watched the movie and I have to say a few things about that because I’m drunk. So, when they were making the film it looks like they got to the part about explaining Alfred’s “niece,” shot the scene as it is in the novel (and included it as a deleted scene on the dvd) and then thought, “this makes no fucking sense.” Then they changed it so that Barbara actually is Alfred’s niece, but that also doesn’t make sense. She’s a college student. Alfred’s old as shit. Alfred’s sister isn’t going to be 40 years younger than him. Also, Alfred is English. His sister is English. His niece is English, and the movie still makes a point of mentioning she goes to college in Oxford. Alicia Silverstone isn’t even attempting a bad accent. It’s just good old American Alicia Silverstone. It’s impossible for me to decide which version of this story is more utterly baffling. I hate them both.

Rambo First Blood Part II

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"Naked, his scrotum tensed against his abdomen, he studied everything."

I was rather excited when I found this book back in mid-June. I picked it up and read the first two sentences of the Author’s Note, because an author’s note in a novelization is rare. Frankly, I’m surprised they don’t use pseudonyms, although I wouldn’t either so I don’t know why I’m surprised. Anyway, David Morrell’s note begins, “In my novel First Blood, Rambo died. In the films, he lives.” I knew I had to buy it. First, I didn’t know First Blood was based on a novel. Second, there’s something kind of humiliating and degrading about an author writing a novelization of a sequel to a film based on his original novel, in which they changed the ending so thoroughly. Third, “Rambo First Blood Part II” is almost certainly the greatest title of anything ever. If I ever became king of a country, I wouldn’t want to be called King Whatever. I would be called Rambo First Blood Part II.

Anyway, this is a terrible book. I should read First Blood. It’s apparently pretty good, and I’m sure Rambo’s death makes a great point about the Vietnam war. This book, however, reads like Morrell has sex with weapons. In the author’s note, he mentions that Rambo’s knife, bow, and arrows were actually made by different people and gives their addresses. I guess in case you would like to have Jimmy Lile make a knife for you just like Rambo, you could write to him. But worse than that, there’s one chapter that gushes on and on about different styles of bows and the history of each for three pages, and then he just gives up and there’s this illustration of the bow Rambo is carrying around.

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Morrell just didn’t believe that his words would ever be sufficient to describe this amazing piece of weaponry. It reads like a trashy romance novel describing the hero, but then if the author just slapped a simple drawing of the hero’s dick on the page, because it’s just too beautiful for words.

Speaking of dicks, there’s a lot of them in this book. No sex. Lots of dicks. A Vietnamese guard gets a raging boner at the thought of fucking a prostitute, and ejaculates in his pants upon letting her into the prison camp. The Russian torturing Rambo gets a boner while he’s torturing Rambo. It’s like Morrell thinks the torture part isn’t enough for you to despise the Russian. No, he needs to be getting off sexually.

In addition to the picture of the bow, there are other times that Morrell gets a little lazy with his descriptions of things. The prostitute (actually Rambo’s love (?) interest in disguise) that makes the guard ejaculate in his pants is described as “penis-arousing.” At the end when Rambo is flying a helicopter full of POWs, he is surprised by a Soviet helicopter that is much larger and better equipped. And so his description of the weapons goes, “And under the wings hung an arsenal. Weapons…shit of every description. Cannons, rockets, missiles, their bulky silhouettes awesome.” It’s at least the proper time for the briefest description possible. I’m sure he could have rambled for pages about the differences between rockets and missiles, and given detailed information about all the weapons, but this is the big climax and shit needs to keep moving. However, “weapons…shit of every description” cracks me up and you need to know that a Soviet helicopter was equipped with cannons. I don’t know what kind of cannons, but I like imagining it’s the type of cannons pirates always use in everything that ever has pirates.

This book might have one of the greatest, laziest analogies ever written too. As Rambo is being tortured…

"His reaction was reflexive, spasmodic, like a frog attached to electrodes, as he had been attached to electrical wires that led back to a generator."

…aka, he behaved like another thing behaved under the exact same conditions. Also, everyone is familiar with the behavior of frogs attached to electrodes, right? I mean…we’ve all done it. One day you’re bored, you find some frogs, you find some electrodes, you put two and two together and you’ve got Rambo being tortured in Rambo First Blood Part II.

Another thing that bothers me with the writing is the way so many paragraphs begin with a conjunction. It’s always the second part of the sentence that ended the previous paragraph. It’s irritating. There’s a lot of paragraphs that end with an ellipsis…

…and Morrell seems to think it makes it more dramatic to start a new paragraph with the conclusion of that ellipsis, but it’s annoying like another thing that is exactly like that.

Don’t read this book. Read the title. Watch the movie. Read the title again. The movie is better than the book.

The World is Not Enough

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"Bond turned, only to find that the first thug had recovered and was blocking the way, gun in hand. He was about to squeeze the trigger when Bond saw a red dot appear on the man’s chest."

So this is stupid. First, I didn’t know there were any James Bond films that were not based on novels that already existed. There are a few, and the one I’m most interested in now is The Spy Who Loved Me, since there is apparently a novelization of the film that was already based on a book anyway. Apparently the film didn’t follow Ian Fleming’s novel at all, so they paid the screenwriter to write a novel too. Anyway…

Second, this novel is filled with all the sorts of movie cliches used by lazy movies to guide stupid audiences along because we’re all too stupid to follow anything more complex than a Baby Einstein video. For example, in the above quote, Bond sees the unmistakable red dot of a laser sight on a thug henchman just before he’s blown away by one of the villains. As if it weren’t stupid enough that a sniper would use something that didn’t actually help him hit his target and only revealed his location, it’s even worse when you realize how utterly pointless it is to have Bond realize there’s a sniper this way. The next sentence is, “Behind him, another window shattered as a bullet zinged through and pierced the henchman’s heart.” Then Bond ducks and looks out for the source of the shot but can’t find it because I guess the sniper turned of his bright red laser sight immediately. Good enough to know to turn it off. Not good enough to shoot without it. Anyway, you can easily combine sentences here. “He was about to squeeze the trigger when another window shattered and a bullet pierced his heart.” And now Bond doesn’t have to be led to the conclusion that a sniper is up to some shit. Because obviously a sniper is up to some shit. And while I’m ranting about stupid bullshit that should never exist in this fucking book, here’s a piece of the scene at the funeral of one of the UK’s most rich and powerful men, Robert King.

"Robinson, a young black man who had joined MI6 only two years before, whispered to Moneypenny, ‘I couldn’t help but notice that young woman during the service.’
Bond moved next to him and said, ‘King’s daughter. Elektra.’
Robinson’s expression said it all. She was indeed beautiful.”

Okay, so this guy has been working for MI6 for two years, during which time they had to deal with the kidnapping of this woman. Also, even if they hadn’t had to deal with her kidnapping, Elektra King is supposed to be well known in her own right. But this fucking idiot, working for MI6 for two goddamn years, has no clue who she is at her own father’s funeral? This is fucking bullshit, lazy writing. Find a better way to introduce a major fucking character.

And another thing, here’s something that happens every now and then…

"The major petroleum sources of Azerbaijan are located in the eastern and southeastern regions of the country, near the capital city of Baku, in the Caspian Sea, close to the border with Iran. Not long after Azerbaijan’s formal declaration of independence, the country’s government signed a production-sharing contract with a consortium of eleven international oil companies for the development of several deep-water oil fields in the Caspian."

It goes on from there. I don’t feel like typing all of it. I’m sure he did a lot of research about the settings and props used throughout the novel, but too often there’s a paragraph or three that reads like an 8th grade kid tried desperately to avoid copying pages out of the World Book Encyclopedia for a geography report. If this book had been written in the days of wikipedia, I’d have checked to see if he copied some of this shit from there.

So that’s it, I guess. There’s plenty of standard Bond moments, a totally cliche Russian villain, of course the Christmas joke at the end, and still only a few typos. I’m starting to get depressed, thinking that Ghost Rider might be the only one that was so poorly edited. It really got my hopes up.

Batman Returns

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"The Batmobile screeched to a halt in front of them. The door flew open and a man dressed all in black leapt out and headed straight for them. It was Batman."

So, here’s another pile of shit. There’s just so much garbage here. My problems with this book began right away with the narration. It’s terrible. It’s a weird sort of first person omniscient that also takes the point of view of whatever the main character of the chapter, or section of chapter, seems to be. And that character seems to be talking to you. So the epilogue and first chapter are about The Penguin, and it’s like The Penguin is narrating. In the epilogue, he tells the story of how he came to be raised by emperor penguins in the sewers of Gotham, and then asks, “a most warming story, don’t you think?” No. I think you need to find a better way to tell your story.

Next, this shit is cut up into way too many chapters. The prologue and epilogue work as they are, but the 42 chapters in the middle are 21 chapters at most. I kept track. Every action scene is cut up into unnecessary chapters. I like easy stopping points, but 4 or 5 in the middle of one scene is just ridiculous. I can’t imagine what Gardner was thinking when he decided on most of these chapter breaks.

Now, I don’t want to pick apart the more absurd parts of a Batman vs. Penguin story, so I’ll pick apart the parts involving Max Shreck; Professional Dipshit. Gotham’s mayor isn’t completely in his pocket, so he decides to get a feral human raised by penguins to run against him. When Batman exposes Penguin as a murderous psychopath at a political speech, Max Shreck is actually surprised that Oswald Cobblepot isn’t the best candidate. Where did he go wrong? How the fuck did that plan ever fail!? If you can’t trust feral humans, who can you trust?

Also, he just decided to murder his employee who didn’t seem to have a problem with his plan. Selina Kyle stumbled on his diabolical plan and didn’t threaten him in any sort of way, so he immediately pushes her through a window. He can’t even wait to see if she’s going to blackmail him or if there’s an easier way to keep her silent. At best, his excuse was going to be suicide. You know what the police look into? Suicide. You know what the police don’t look into? Blackmail (if you cooperate).

I lied. The Penguin has a gang of circus performers, and there’s no explanation as to how he went from feral living in the sewers to circus freak and then back to the sewers or why the circus performers actually obey him. I don’t care that they would rather be a criminal gang, just that they would obey a feral human they dredged out of the sewers. During their first attack, Batman brutally murders two of the circus performers, but more importantly he actually captures several of them. He ties up some and knocks out others. In the next scene, all but the two he killed are with The Penguin in the sewers, having successfully kidnapped Max Shreck. None of them were arrested? The police are thoroughly useless.

On top of all this, Selina Kyle/Catwoman’s story is never resolved. She kills Max Shreck and disappears. Bruce Wayne finds her cat on the street and apparently adopts it. Not really sure how he knows her cat, but I was drinking while I read this. I don’t remember Bruce going to her apartment, or her talking to him about the cat, but I was drunk. Anyway, she’s dead, or alive, or who knows? Her fucking cat needs to be taken care of. Worse than all that, anytime Selina Kyle does something stupid, she (or her as the narrator) says, “corn dog,” as if it’s an idiom for calling yourself a dumbass.

So that’s it. I often had to stop reading from exasperation. I’ve had enough of this book.