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4 November 2010 1:37 AM, PDT

(This article was originally published in October 2009) This ain't the end, fool! That's what many films seem to scream at us just when we think we're finished. One of the best ways to really deliver that final sucker punch to the audience is for a movie to lead us to believe the story is done, only to knock us around with a final bit of storytelling meant to shock, appall, or just plain freak us out. (The fool's ending, it should be explained, is slightly different than the twist ending, although they can be the same thing. A twist ending takes what we thought we knew and turns it on its head, while a fool's ending fools us into thinking the story is done, only to reel us in for one last bit of story.) Is it cheap and manipulative? »

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3 November 2010 7:27 PM, PDT

Back again for another highly opinionated -- some might even say downright cranky -- look at some element of the fantasy genre. You've been warned! When Did Fantasy Stop Being About Swords And Sorcery?

Whenever I tell people I edit a website devoted to fantasy-themed entertainment, they usually say the same thing: "Oh, wizards and sorcery and quests and stuff like that?"

Usually, I just nod and say, "Yup!"

But if I'm in the mood to give a more complicated answer (and if I think the listener actually wants to hear it!), I say, "Well, swords and sorcery are a part of it. »

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3 November 2010 8:23 AM, PDT

In the last two weeks, I've played a lot of Fable III, both in single-player and multiplayer mode. I've become the Queen of Albion twice, made a lot of money, been insulted by gnomes, figured out the secret to dying my hair blond (use the cream color, not the yellow one), and discovered The Ice Maiden gun that rewards me for sleeping with 15 men and killing 200 of them (uh, no thanks). I've also received more marriage proposals than The Bachelor. Any guy (and it's always a guy) who asks to join my game inevitably proposes within two minutes. Every time. This isn't because my character is so fantastic — although she is — but because you get an achievement for marrying another player, and there are almost no women in Fable 3's multiplayer world. »

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2 November 2010 5:52 PM, PDT

Two new Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows featurettes. (I'm looking forward to the movie, but truthfully, I'm kinda featurette-d out.) Director Bryan Singer talks X-Men: First Class (which he's producing). Nutshell? It takes place in the early 60s when Xavier and Magnetto first meet. And no, contrary to the rumors, Wolverine isn't making a cameo. Everything you want to know about Scott Pilgrim Vs. the World, from the mouths of those involved, interviewed by Guillermo del Toro (video). Conan gets a release date: August 19th. A clip from Tron: Legacy. What's Jeff Bridges been doing all these years?

That musical version of the Michael Jackson song "Thriller" that I (and everyone) was mocking last week? »

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1 November 2010 7:18 PM, PDT

Have a question about something fantasy-related? Please send an email to thetorchonlineoracle@gmail.com and be sure and include your city and state and/or country. Q: It's a fantasy trope that you can't ever vanquish Great Evil completely: Sauron, Voldemort, the White Witch -- somehow they always come back. I get that it's a metaphor for how evil is eternal. But how does their ability to resurrect themselves work exactly? -- MegaMouth, Manchester, Nh The Oracle Speaks: This is a classic example of various authors basically starting from a philosophical "point" they want to make and working backwards from there: as you say, the point they're making is that evil is a fundamental part of us all, and since we can't ever deny our own natures, we can't ever vanquish evil completely (although we can certainly reduce its influence and impact!). But even apart from the fascinating philosophical question, »

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31 October 2010 5:59 PM, PDT

Five Torches (Out of Five) Warning: This review contains spoilers for the “Days Gone Bye” episode of The Walking Dead. When was the last time there was a post-apocalyptic TV series? Has there ever been a post-apocalyptic TV series? Because I honestly can't think of any. TV is a mass market medium -- the original mass market medium -- and definitely not one to dwell on the dark side. I think it speaks pretty accurately to how hopeless and depressed people feel these days that we're finally seeing such a series right now. And they didn't pull any punches, did they? »

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