Thursday, January 13, 2011

read Billy Boyle

Billy Boyle (Billy Boyle World War II, #1)Billy Boyle by James R. Benn

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There's probably nothing basically wrong with this book, but I'm giving up on it after about 100 pages. It could be that it just doesn't meet my current need of story. Or maybe there's just not enough story.

The basic writing is pretty good. Good descriptions. Good distinctions between the main characters. They just aren't doing enough.

It's pretty slow. There are too many characters to keep track of right off the bat. I didn't really care about whoever it was that turned up dead. The spy threat hasn't been made real. I'm not really connecting with the main character.

I'm glad I got it free for my Nook.

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

"Knight and Day" [B]

Entertaining comedy action flick with absolutely no presumptions of being anything more. It could have been a very nice romantic comedy spy caper, but instead chose to emphasize the action too much. As a result, the human element is lost among all of the explosions and flying bullets and crashing cars, motorcycles, and aircraft.

Knight and Day (IMDb)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Shutter Island" [B-]

Disappointing. That's the best summary I can think of for this movie. And I think the basic fault lies in the script. The actors acted the heck out of it. Scorcese did his usual admirable job of directing. There was suspense. And there was creepiness. There was great potential in the premise. But the story just didn't quite hang together. This is supposed to be a psychological thriller. So I give it a lot of leeway regarding fragmented scenes, hallucinations, and shifting point of view. But I think it needed to be quite a bit less obvious in order to draw the viewer in. And shorter.

Monday, January 3, 2011

read: The Sagan Diary

The Sagan DiaryThe Sagan Diary by John Scalzi

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

An odd little collection of philosophical internal monologues from a futuristic special-ops soldier being decommissioned. I never really quite bought the voice, which seemed much too mature and educated for a piece of meat grown in a vat, trained to fight at an accelerated rate, turned out to battle, and alive for only a relatively few years. But props to John Scalzi for good writing and experimenting with the form.

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Saturday, January 1, 2011

read: Dreadnought

Dreadnought (The Clockwork Century, #3)Dreadnought by Cherie Priest

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved this book. So far, I've enjoyed all of the stories that are being told in the world of "The Clockwork Century". Dreadnought is the best so far.

The story is carried by a strong, richly drawn main character, Nurse Mercy Lynch, whose only flaw is perhaps being a bit too unflappable. Then again, her strength does not come falsely and she uses it to help others when needed. Surrounding her is a potpourri of supporting characters that, with the exception of some infantrymen, are also well-drawn and easy to distinguish.

The plot proceeds at breakneck speed, barely pausing occasionally for a little reflection and the binding of wounds. It's filled with airships, trains, and other battle vehicles powered by steam and reflecting the best minds of the century applied to the technology of war. And applied to war they are with credible descriptions of high-powered battles. [More]

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"TRON: Legacy" [B]

I'll admit that TRON: Legacy doesn't make any more sense than the original film did. Given the premise that organic life can physically exist in a virtual world, and given the continuation of the characters and settings created for the original story, the new film is a highly entertaining spray of pixels on the screen.

TRON: Legacy (IMDb)

"True Grit (2010)" [A-]

The 1969 rendition of True Grit with John Wayne was still an old-school epic Western, with rousing score, scenic vistas, and colorful characters. The Coen brothers have turned their 2010 rendition of the same story into a slog through a barren country populated by unwashed half-wits, unrepentant murderers, and half-redeemed lawmen. Both are successful in their own right. Jeff Bridges (the Dude) disappears into Rooster Cogburn a bit more than The Duke ever could, allowing the story to center more around the girl and her quest.

True Grit (2010) (IMDb)

"The Sorcerer's Apprentice" [B]

I liked this film quite a bit. Maybe even a more like a B+ or even A-. I thought the main story actually worked pretty well. The sense of magic and wonder and the link to science was pretty cool (if a bit ridiculous and not always consistent). The visual effects were marvelous. The nods to Disney (and even Star Wars) were fun.

But I had to mark it down a point or two because I thought the love story didn't really work very well and I really didn't like the casting choice for the apprentice (on the other hand, Nic Cage turn as the sorcerer was brilliantly underplayed madness, for him). Otherwise, this is a fun movie that will no doubt stop my channel flipping when I next run across it.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice (IMDb)