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Filtering by Tag: Fantasy

Movie Review - Pirates 3

The same cast of characters from the first two movies returns with the addition of several Pirate Lords played most notably by Chow Yun Fat and Keith Richards (in the role of Jack Sparrow's father, although I couldn't immediately tell a difference from his last Stones appearance, and I kept waiting for one of the other pirates to call him Keef). The story is a bit confusing as it consists of a meeting of the same Pirate Lords, the release of a mythical creature called Calypso, attempts to free Jack from Davy Jones Locker (the world of the dead?) and the battle(s) to gain control of the chest with Jones heart in it, control of the Black Pearl, control of the high seas, etc. I think there were at least three sides in the movie with the British Navy as one, Davy Jones & crew as another, and then the collection of the main characters as the third. 

The problem is that at any given moment one group is in league with another, someone from one group betrays the others and crosses sides, etc. After awhile I gave up on understanding where the plot was supposed to be going and just enjoyed the action and humor. Johnny Depp just seems made for this character and he is consistently funny throughout. The action sequences and special effects are as good as they come and although the movie was little too long at 2:45, the time went by fairly fast. If you consider yourself a fan of the first two, it's worth seeing in the theater once. If you weren't, this won't win you over. I give it a mild thumbs up.

Movies - The Golden Compass looks good

In the realm of fantastic fiction directed at children/young adults, Harry Potter is the reigning champion by any yardstick. J.K. Rowling doesn't have a monopoly, however. I grew up reading C.S. Lewis and Lloyd Alexander before I moved on to J.R.R. Tolkien in my early teens. If it had been written back then, I'm sure I would have read Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy. I have actually picked these novels up at the bookstore several times but  never got around to reading them. By all reports it's in a similar vein to Harry Potter but with a more adult sensibility to it.  Riding the wave of cinematic success of HP, LOTR, and Narnia the first novel has been made into a feature film and there's a really cool looking trailer here. I'm looking forward to this now and I'm more inclined to read the first novel before I see this.

Popcorn season commences

There are some decentish movies coming out this summer, the overwhelming majority of which are franchises. Hollywood knows how to ride a horse until it drops. That being said, I am looking forward to the following corntastic flicks: Bourne Ultimatum, Evan Almighty, Oceans 13, Spider Man 3, Pirates 3, Harry Potter 5, Shrek 3, Fantastic Four 2. We typically watch dramas, comedies (and the less spectacular) on our big screen at home as you don't necessarily lose much compared to the multiplex. 

Those listed deserve at least one theater viewing.  We watch most movies at home and typically enjoy the experience more without the added multiplex frustrations (noisy kids, tiny seats, rigoldarndiculous food prices, etc.), but there still is something special about a screen so big you can't take it all in without panning your eyes left and right. I'm a big fan of IMAX, and I would probably go see more regular films in that format but they never offer them in the markets where I live (thanks Army, no really, thanks).


Book Review - Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - another B&N browse pickup. This novel is set in a similar time period to two recent "magical" movies (The Prestige and The Illusionists, respectively) and describes a Napoleonic war era England in which magic is a historical art/science that has fallen out of regular use by most of it's practitioners, who are called theoretical magicians since they all study and discuss it in great detail, but none of them actually can perform any magic. It follows the titular characters who both have different ways of actually practicing the magic and both have different opinions of what it's proper use will be in the service of their own priorities and those of the country. It's been called a sort of Harry Potter for adults, and I guess that's somewhat fair in that it is very English in tone and it's about magic. If you're main foray into literature has been HP, then this may not be your cup of tea, but lovers of good writing with an element of the fantastic will probably like this.

Book Review - American Gods

I saw this while browsing at B&N and it caught my eye. I have seen his novels on the shelves for awhile now but never picked anything up. This won every major Fantasy/Horror award the year it was published and it looked like a nice modern fantasy with elements of Clive Barker/Stephen King set in America at the turn of the new millienium. After reading the novel I considered it a good read, although I had my doubts as to whether it was worth all the awards. I'm not sure about the other novels it was competing with, so maybe that's not fair. Gaman introduces some pretty cool concepts in the ideas that Gods of all religions and myths survive based on the faithful and their support. As people began to emigrate in great numbers from Europe to America around the time of the colonies, many of the old religions and Gods began to lose supporters in the old world. This eventually motivated many of the Gods to come to America as well, in an attempt to follow the faithful. The story focuses around an ex con and his hiring by a mysterious character with a nebulous past. Without giving the plot away, it's based on what happens when the old Gods have to compete with the new "American Gods" of television, the internet, etc. The God's avatars are all fairly normalish characters walking around in the story and interacting with each other. It's definitely a nice modern twist on the concept of religion and set in the backdrop of a very different America.