What child doesn’t love a good grenade-down-the-thorax story?

I saw the Time Traveler’s Wife this weekend. I’ll keep my thoughts short on this subject, as I imagine most of our readership would rather read about District 9, G.I. Joe, or even The Goods.

The movie was okay. It had some cute parts, and was pretty faithful to the book, but the small time span the movie was forced into really hurt the overall punch of the story. I’m not saying the movie should have been longer, because to be honest, I usually hate long movies. There was just too much in the book that couldn’t fit into the film. As a result, Henry and Claire’s personalities, and even their reasons for loving each other, were highly undeveloped and unclear. We’re just kind of thrown into them loving each other, depending on Adams and Bana’s spotty acting to make us like the characters and their relationship. Additionally, a lot of Henry’s adventures were cut out, as was pretty much all the suspense of keep Henry’s problem a secret, Claire’s family dynamics, and most of the subplots with Gomez. Still, for anyone who is a fan of the book, the skeleton of the story is pretty much there, and it is fun to see it on the screen.

Now, on to things our readers probably care about. The comic WE3 came in the mail for me this week. For those unfamiliar, the book is a story about three house pets who have been transformed into cybernetic super-weapons by the U.S. government, for use in covert missions. The three animals escape, and antics ensue. The book is three or four issues long, if that. It is written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely.

WE3 is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, and I have to say it more than lived up to the hype. To be honest, I’m not even sure how to describe how much I liked it. One of the cover tags reads “‘Startling, disturbing and perhaps enlightening … a provocative tale.’ –The Atlanta Journal Constitution,” and I suppose that’s a fairly good place to start.

Disturbing is certainly a fair descriptor. The highly graphic violence and sometimes-twisted cybernetic modifications mix with three cute and familiar animals who are very lovable, friendly, and speak in a combination of a text-messaging dialect and how a toddler talks to great effect. This well-executed “horror” aspect keeps the story very sharp and engaging in a unique way, snaring you in with with some very strong and interesting imagery, atmosphere and themes. It’s similar to a  good horror movie in certain ways I suppose, combining the disturbing with the beloved to create a powerful emotional reaction.

Startling, the other descriptor in the cover tag from The Atlanta Journal Constitution, is maybe less accurate. There are some twists and turns, to be sure, and some very powerful scenes as well, but I don’t think startling is the right word. It evokes too much ”Ah! Boo!” in my opinion.  I don’t think I can do much better, however, save offering other reviewer’s tropes. Raw maybe? Powerful? Moving? The point is the story has some oomph to it in a lot of places, and even if you’re an emotionally jaded cynic like me, you should feel the hits.

As for enlightening, I don’t know. You can draw some conclusions about war, government and conflict resolution that I don’t think are insightful enough to have much value outside a freshman English class. though I might be being a bit cynical and presumptuous in saying so. There is a little more meat in some themes about violence, loyalty, and how we as a culture both under- and over-value animal life sometimes, but I still think “enlightening” is a bit of an exaggeration.

I will say though, that there is a definitely sweetness to the story. Morrison and Quitely, more than anything else, have created something very touching here. Some of the panels, especially towards the end, are just beautiful in how well they express an emotion. I realize this review is a bit long, and probably dull, so here’s my bottom line:

READ WE3. NOW.

<3 Mike