Friday, November 26, 2010

"Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" [B-]

Of course, the plot and the visual effects didn't always make sense. And the dialog was sometimes jolting in its modernity. But after all, this is a video game turned into a rollicking fantasy adventure movie. It's not supposed to make historical, geographical or scientific sense.

It is rollicking. It is full of adventure. I thought it was a fun way to spend a couple of hours.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I" [C+]

Since I haven't read beyond the second book in the series, it's impossible for me to say if this film is too meandering and maudlin due to the original story or the screenplay or the directing. My guess is all three.

The first 30 minutes or so actually worked fairly effectively. There is a sense of loss and danger. There is a thrilling escape. There is a growing threat. Then we spend two hours wandering from place to place with no clue as to why we are anywhere. It's just a series of set pieces that eventually start adding up to something. Then we finally and surprisingly find the one person who can fit all of the pieces together and we get an information dump about what is going on (at least it's a somewhat interesting and entertaining dump).

High marks still for special effects and world building (although the number of people working at the Ministry of Magic seems implausible to me). Decent marks for acting, based on what they had to work with (the romances here seem to have been written by George Lucas). Low marks for storytelling and pacing. I'm glad this will all be over soon.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

read: Our Kind of Traitor

Our Kind of TraitorOur Kind of Traitor by John le Carré

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not sure what to think of this book. On the one hand, the prose has the usual deft touch of the master. The characters are rich and engaging and the settings colorful. I enjoyed almost every page once it got going. On the other hand, "where's the beef"?

I never really cared what happened to the characters. I think this is because I was never captivated by their needs or their motivations. And when the last few pages started rushing toward me, all I could think was that the ending was going to be tragically unsatisfying or awesomely wonderful. It was unsatisfying and unfairly left a majority of the plot threads dangling, including the ones that I actually did care about.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Films of the Season

Just this morning I got to thinking about the quickly approaching Christmas season and the associated films and television specials I look forward to each year. I've decided to turn my mental list into an actual list (in no particular order):
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas
  • Ruldolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (tv)
  • A Christmas Carol (either the 1951 b&w classic with Alastair Sim, or the 1984 tv version with George C. Scott; though I'm also a sucker for the 1970 musical Scrooge with Albert Finney)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (1959, b&w)
  • It's a Wonderful Life (b&w)
  • Elf (new classic)
  • A Christmas Story
  • White Christmas (or Holiday Inn, or both)
  • The Santa Clause (almost a guilty pleasure)
That just happens to work out to ten. Some also-rans and guilty pleasures are worth mentioning: The Bishop's Wife, Jingle All The Way (with the governator), Die Hard, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, The Nightmare Before Christmas, The Muppet Christmas Carol, any Andy Williams Christmas Special, and if it ever makes it to video John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why, Yes, I am writing a novel this month

I actually did start on a new NaNo novel last week. Only about 1200 words, so far. But I'm just getting started and think I can catch up.

read: Hollywood Tough

Hollywood Tough (Shane Scully, #3)Hollywood Tough by Stephen J. Cannell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I like much of the television that Stephen J. Cannell has written and produced. It turns out that his fiction writing isn't too bad, either. I liked this. It's not ground-breaking or earth-shattering or by any means awe-inspiring. But it is pretty good, down-to-earth, fun, detective fiction and kept me turning pages.

Keep in mind that Cannell is a television writer, so the plots and schemes of Shane Scully and the characters around him are suitably ridiculous and far-fetched. Taking that as a given, the plot is inventive and keeps you guessing. The characters were colorful and well-drawn. The settings might be a bit fuzzy, if you weren't completely familiar with them from hours of network television set in Los Angeles. The prose was easy on the eyes and inner ear, except for a few times where paragraphs suddenly began with the word 'Suddenly' several times in a row. [More]

View all my reviews