Book Review: SEAGALOGY (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, May 15, 2008
Mixing thorough film insight with vulgar hilarity, Titan Books and Aint It Cool News’ Vern tackle the films of Steven Seagal with infectious admiration…and make a book about Seagal’s movies that’s not only readable, but also a hell of a lot of fun.
The opening pages of Seagalogy, as well as a disclaimer noting that portions of the book were written while under the influence of Steven Seagal’s Lightning Bolt Energy drink, make it abundantly clear that Vern’s Seagal outing is far from the film analysis norm.
Seagalogy is lewd, crass and pony-tailed. And it cusses, a lot. But the excessive dropping of f-bombs is expertly balanced with loads of interesting tidbits and aficionado facts. Vern divides Seagal’s film career into four distinct stages: the Golden Era from 1988 to 1991, the Silver Era from 1992 to 1997, the Transitional Period from 1998 to 2002 and the Direct-to-Video Era from 2003 to the present. Within these eras Vern dissects every Seagal film ever made from the theatrical release of Andrew Davis’ ABOVE THE LAW to the most recent, straight-to-video PISTOL WHIPPED.
At the end of each film chapter Vern breaks down the movie’s important, at-a-glance facts. These range from the fascinating topics of adopted cultures and political themes to Seagal’s use of improvised weapons, how many fights take place in bars, and the film’s treatment of family life (headed under “Family shit”). The back page facts of each chapter are almost as funny as Vern’s unabbreviated analyses and provide a great addendum to each film critique.
What Vern does best in Seagalogy is illuminate an archetypal action hero without undermining that action hero’s ridiculous persona. In the second of two introductions (the first being penned by THE PINEAPPLE EXPRESS director David Gordon Green), Vern admits that Seagal’s movies are often ridiculous and corny, yet he has the ability to make us care about them in an enjoyable way. Through Vern we can see, step by step, how Seagal has used his screen characters and goofy action flicks as vehicles for his own beliefs on environmental protection, government agency reform, and on whatever else has impassioned the aikido badass through the years.
The only minor problem with Vern’s Seagalogy is, well, its length. At over 400 pages chances are you won’t be rushing through each and every chapter; 28 Seagal films is a lot to cover in only a handful of sittings. But like such coffee table tomes as A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction or Destined for Destiny, Seagalogy is a raucous, thigh-slapping and informative read that can murder spare time as easily as Steven Seagal can break peoples’ necks.
In short Vern’s Seagalogy is an unexpected gem. If you’re a die-hard action fan, or really anyone who appreciates a good laugh at Seagal’s expense, don’t miss out on this one.
Courtesy of our friends over at Titan Books, we have a total of five copies of Seagalogy to give away for your reading pleasure. If any of you Maniacs are interested in winning a copy drop a comment below on how Steven Seagal has changed your life. Points awarded for creativity.
For more information on the novel be sure to check out Titan’s website directly at www.titanbooks.com.
Mania Grade: A
Maniac Grade: A+
Publisher: Titan Books