Explodobook: The World of 80s Action According to the SMERSH podcast
Thunderbook: The world of Bond according to the SMERSH Podcast
By John Rain
A double whammy of book titles brought to you by Polaris Publishing from author John Rain, you can get your action on with each of these tomes.
The first, Explodobook (fun title), turns back to the clock to 1981 and proceeds to take a look at 20 selected action titles from that decade in the order they emerged.
The book doesn’t just focus on the films of the best quality (otherwise why on earth would you want to include Red Heat or Cobra – (Zing!)) but instead it’s more of a taste of what the decade had to offer to those of us that got to experience it first-hand. Schwarzenegger and Stallone appear more than once each because they were uniformly the princes of action at the time. There are also inclusions of a few sequels as well as they were booming at the time. And to this it is interesting to see Rambo: First Blood Part II (which truly is one of the films that stood out at the time in terms of influence and box office reign), but the original absent. Beverly Hills Cop II is also in here but not the original. Rain must see these sequels as having a bigger action focus perhaps. And although the original BHC is very similar in tone, Tony Scott directed BHC2 and his Top Gun is also included in this book; so the focus may be on his emerging career as an action director.
Mad Max 2 is the opening chapter for the book which makes perfect sense, and Gibson returns in the first two Lethal Weapon films later in the book. Having slightly less explosions in it is Road House; but undeniably an action film with endless fisticuffs. But then you may wonder where all the martial arts guys are aside form Chuck Norris. Zero Seagal and zero Van Damme or even Lundgren.
Debate on what is here and what isn’t could go on forever but, looking at this selection, Rain does pull off just from the chapter list a nice spectrum of choices that do paint an 80s palette. You could all but see a painted collage on a wall featuring the characetrs in action from the films much like the front cover of the book.
Thunderbook is much more straight forward. Quite simply put it’s the Bond franchise: The official 25 movies and Never Say Never Again thrown in for good measure. Each chapter, in the order they came out, focusses on each of the Bond films. It’s very straight forward.
The problem with both of these books is one that might stagnate interest somewhat and that is the books’ lack of commentary. Ok, both books have introductions and the former has an epilogue, but each film talked about largely just retells the story from front to back. That’s largely it. There is the occasional remark but nothing that suggests the author is about to analyse in any meaningful way the content of the films. So, if you are looking for any behind the scenes tid-bits, interview, quotes or just plain old opinion it is largely devoid here.
Now, the chapters are written well enough. Rain knows how to retell the stories but, if that is all he is offering at the end of the day is a sit-down story-time then, it may scare off prospective buyers who love these films as they themselves will already know the plots. As for anyone who doesn’t know, well, they are likely to just go watch the films instead for the first time instead of ruining it in a book.
Had the book been full of colourfiul images form the films then that might help things a bit, but it is pretty much text only. This leaves a small select group of people who love the movies, know them well and want to enjoy simply the appreciation of them by themselves with a book. The rest of us can do it in conversation with others.