My Cultural Diet for November 2022: Andor, Weird Al, Ferris Bueller, Halo Infinite

A quick rundown of last month’s cultural experiences.
Andor

In order to better track my various cultural experiences (e.g., movies, TV shows, books, restaurants), I’ve created the Cultural Diet. Think of it as my own personal Goodreads, Letterboxd, and Yelp, all rolled into one (more info here). Every month, I recap everything that I watched, read, etc., in the previous month.


I was really looking forward to Ron Marz and Ron Lim, who helmed the Silver Surfer comic when I first discovered it back in high school, return to the Sentinel of the Spaceways. Alas, this was a disappointment. Lim’s artwork had lost its mid-’90s edge and the storyline — the Surfer teams up with Thanos to retrieve one of the Infinity Gems — felt like a retread. It might’ve helped if the series had been longer than five issues, as there were some interesting threads in there, but overall, not my favorite Surfer title.
One of my favorite martial arts movies of all time, and remastered and released on Blu-ray last year. This movie has everything: physics-defying combat, exploding ninjas, existential and melodramatic ruminations on honor and martial arts, and did I mention the exploding ninjas? The last 25 minutes or so are more insane than any ten Hollywood action movies combined. (Read my review)
An obvious star vehicle for The Rock, but not even his trademark charisma can save this tedious superhero movie. DC seemed to be angling for something inspirational à la 2018’s Black Panther, but it falls flat. One bright spot was Pierce Brosnan, who brought some welcome gravitas as Doctor Fate. I’m a sucker for DC’s magic-oriented characters (e.g., John Constantine, Zatanna), and enjoyed seeing Fate on the screen.
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Andor, Season One
The best thing to happen to Star Wars in years. The Mandalorian has Baby Yoda, The Bad Batch is enjoyable, and it was nice to see Ewan McGregor take up Obi-Wan again, but Andor expands and deepens the Star Wars universe without relying on nostalgia or any of the usual tropes. And in doing so, it gives us some awesome new characters (e.g., Luthen, B2EMO) and a thrilling, even thought-provoking storyline. I can’t wait for season two.
The best burgers in Lincoln, no question about it. I usually get their “Greatest Burger Ever” (an excellent bacon cheeseburger) but the “Porterhouse” was on the menu this time — and it was fantastic.
I had mixed reactions to the drama in this novel about a pair of lifelong friends and video game designers whose relationship evolves and breaks and heals over the years. But I did enjoy the snapshots of ’80s and ’90s video game nostalgia as well as the commentary on the video game industry as a whole (commentary that, thankfully, never felt heavy-handed or pedantic).
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Halo Infinite
My third time playing all the way through the campaign. I still enjoy the gameplay — using the grappleshot to stun an enemy and then stick a plasma grenade on them will never not be satisfying — and I love everything about the game’s design and aesthetic (except for the explosions). But the story itself feels hollow, like 343 Industries worked themselves into a narrative corner after the last two games. I’m curious to see how future installments will advance the storyline. (Read my review)
I totally understand why this movie is such a classic for so many people. It’s exceptionally well-made (the music cues are 100% on point), it has some hilarious scenes, and it’s filled with a certain joie de vivre that’s distinctly ’80s. (Also, it’s very nostalgic.) But unfortunately, I just don’t like Ferris Bueller himself. I’m sure most see him as a lovable jerk, but he’s just a jerk to me.
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The Wild by David Zindell (A Requiem for Homo Sapiens, Book Two)
Zindell continues to fascinate and frustrate. His prose can be compelling and even strikingly beautiful in its description of a far-distant spacefaring future. But it’s also ponderous and long-winded, with segues and side quests that are a slog (and could’ve used an editor’s red pen). I’m glad to be reading this trilogy, but I’ll be glad to be done with it.
I chuckled pretty consistently throughout this movie, especially when Jack Black showed up as Wolfman Jack or Wierd Al became the world’s greatest assassin. But I think I would’ve enjoyed it more had I seen it with a bunch of like-minded fans.
I’m not sure I enjoyed this as much as the first Enola Holmes movie. The constant breaking of the 4th wall — which happens in the first movie, too — grated on me, and felt like the movie was trying too hard to be clever. Still, I enjoy the rapport between Millie Bobby Brown and Henry Cavill. The “fight the power” message is a bit on-the-nose for a production by a multi-billion dollar company, but it’s not an unwelcome sentiment in this day when the ultra-rich keep getting richer.