Moving Pictures (Discworld #10, Industrial #1)

Moving Pictures (Discworld, #10)Moving Pictures by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett’s 10th venture onto Discworld, puts Hollywood and celebrity culture in it’s sights as the Disc goes crazy for motion pictures.  Pratchett blends a combination of his satirical Discworld humor with movie clichés, even reverse clichés, to create a fun book but not up to some of his previous efforts.

The death of the last priest of Holy Wood results in “dreams” spreading through the thin reality of the Disc touching off the discovery and inventions of motion pictures, which leads to a motion picture boom and thousands heading to Holy Wood to get in on the action.  The set-up seems perfect for Pratchett to do wonders with his humor, unfortunately variations of the same jokes what were funny in the first half of the book are not so in the second.  The stand out characters are not the main characters Victor and Ginger, instead it was Gaspode the Wonder Dog and the previous introduced Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler that shine throughout the book.  And not all the humorous situations Pratchett creates pan out, especially the one thousand elephants ordered by Dibbler seem to build up to something only to arrive after the second or third climax.

Do not get me wrong, Moving Pictures does have it’s good sections particularly those surrounding Gaspode and Dibbler, but the overall book is just okay.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Film)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Two-Disc Widescreen Edition)

5.0 out of 5 stars My Personal Favorite of the Series

The film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third in the franchise, is by and far the best of the entire series. Director Alfonso Cuaron’s sole work in the franchise brought a breathe of fresh air as Harry, Ron, and Hermione became teenagers contending against situations far darker and unconquerable than before.

Unlike the first two films, “Prisoner of Azkaban” was boiled down to the essential plot and foreshadowing elements needed for future films with barely anything added that wasn’t necessary. Even though the film took liberty with some of the timeline of events in the novel or various “reveal” scenes, the changes were critical in making the film version the best it could be (though in my humble opinion the Sirius as Godfather reveal is done better in the film than the book). The pace of the film is perfect and the used of the Walloping Willow to denote the passage of time was a brilliant use of an important element of the film for an entirely different purpose. With the principal actors having grown up and a few years in-between the filming of “Chamber of Secrets” and this film, the more mature elements in this film is handled very well helping the overall film in the process. The adult members of the cast with inclusions of Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore) and Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) continued to impress in this “kid movie”.

The third installment of the Harry Potter franchise got a breathe of fresh and a new set of eyes at a critical point that helped gave the series a significant jolt as the material it covered started to turn darker. Add to that the boiling down of the written material to the essential plot plus the break in-between this film and it’s predecessor, all the ingredients were in place to make this film shine and it did without question.

Fahrenheit 451: A Novel

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Written in the early 1950s, “Fahrenheit 451” is both a speculative work of the future while also a semi-prophetic piece by Ray Bradbury.  A fireman of the future who burns down homes, instead of saving them, because they possess books begins to question his profession and society after he begins reading.

Guy Montag, a professional fireman, has been secretly hoarding books he’s suppose to be burning when he meets Clarisee a young neighbor that asks a lot of Why? questions.  Then after his wife’s suicide attempt and Clarisee’s sudden disappearance, Guy begins questioning his profession and society openly leading him to lose both his wife and home then being condemned as a public threat because of his love of books.

Bradbury wrote about a futuristic society that lived through television, or interactive media, a world only like our own.  However, Bradbury’s world has outlawed books because they make people feel bad or are contradictory or are lies or the actual truth; taking “political correctness” to a extreme and creating a society that indulges people’s self-esteem.  Bradbury then questioned what if one of the men charged with preserving that society leading to Guy Montag’s challenging his society, in particular his wife and his boss.

Bradbury explores this speculative world and society through a narrative that reads both as a short story and a novella, but comes off as something in the middle.  Overall the entire narrative is good, however it’s not without it’s flaws especially when it comes to the death of Clarisee, the introduction of Faber, the entity of the Hound, and the sudden ending of Montag’s society through mutually assured destruction.  But in balance the foolishness of Captain Beatty at taunting a man holding a flamethrower and Bradbury’s correct assumption of the future entertainment value of the highway chase are strong additions.

“Fahrenheit 451” is both a speculative story of the future from time of it’s first publication as well as important warning for us today about the over-protection of an individual’s feelings.  Bradbury worried that radio and television would be used to control people’s opinions and lifestyle to their own determent, especially if there was nothing to compete with them like books.  Although Bradbury doesn’t say it, one has the feeling that just after World War II he thought that the idea that it was a small step between burning books to burning people was still something to fear because only the instruments had changed.

View all my reviews

The Empire Striketh Back (William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Part The Fifth)

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back (William Shakespeare's Star Wars, #5)William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The wonderful combination of Elizabethan theater and the Galaxy Far, Far Away returns in William Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher.  Combining his love of the classic trilogy and the Bard, Doescher followed up the overwhelming success of his first crossover adaptation by bringing further the tragedy of Episode V in all it’s glory in the form of iambic pentameter, prose, and even haiku.

Doescher continued his excellent translation of film dialogue to late 16th century English with the addition of soliloquies, speeches, and asides that add depth to all the characters Star Wars have come to love.  Lando, Boba Fett, and Yoda being the newest major characters to the overall story are given lines to better understand their inner character which aren’t allowed to come out in the film.  This approached allowed for a better understanding of Lando in particular giving the audience an insight about his motives through the latter part of the book.  Unlike his first book, Doescher breaks away from iambic pentameter for two characters:  Boba Fett as a bounty hunter is “base” enough to just warrant prose speech while Yoda’s unique manner of dialogue was but into haiku.  The inner feelings of Han and Leia towards permeate their scenes, giving a better understanding of their romance throughout the book.  Doescher used the Chorus drastically less than he did in his previous effort and instead had characters detail the action like Shakespeare also did in his plays.  Even with the use of all these inner monologues, Doescher is able to give “that scene” at the end of the film a suspenseful and stunning air about it.

In a 172 pages, Doescher brings the epic nature of Episode V of the Star Wars saga to the Elizabethan stage to amazing results.  If you’re a Star Wars fan you’ve got to get your hands on this book.

View all my reviews

The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings #3)

The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The third and final volume of The Lord of the Rings finishes Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mount Doom while the rest of his companions deal with armies of Sauron in the fields of Gondor and in front of the Black Gate of Mordor. ‘The Return of the King’ is where J.R.R. Tolkien gives his story it’s epic scope with both battles in arms and in the soul.

‘The Return of the King’ contains the fifth and sixth books that Tolkien divided The Lord of the Rings into. The fifth book begins with further divides the remaining Company into three, but eventually join together at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields before moving on to in front of the Black Gate. The sixth follows Frodo and Sam’s journey through Mordor to the heart of Mount Doom before they are reunited with the Company. Throughout Return, Tolkien continually foreshadows, yet surprises the reader with events and scenes that create an epic feel to his story. Although he the separate story arcs until uniting them in the middle of the sixth book, Tolkien references the other arc’s timeline to allow the reader to know how each is relating to one another. Unfortunately Tolkien’s decision to split one of the story arc’s temporarily into three resulted in another flashback retelling of how Aragorn, Legalos, and Gimli arrived at the Pelennor Fields.

Although the material in Return was originally intended by J.R.R. Tolkien to be the conclusion of an entire one-volume story, a publisher decision to split the tale into three volumes created unfortunate problems for this book. The latter part of book six taking part in the Shire would have felt like a natural conclusion to the one-volume story Tolkien intended, however the change in scenery and feeling of completeness after Aragorn’s crowning is undone do the decision to split. Another unfortunate decision was the title of the third volume, The Return of the King, which essentially gave away everything and gave an anticlimactic feeling to everything. If Tolkien’s preferred title, The War of the Ring, had been used even the events in the Shire would have felt like a completion of the whole affair given Saruman’s involvement.

‘The Return of the King’ feels incomplete as and individual book with a title that sabotages the story and a giving off the feeling of too many endings instead of the powerful conclusion of one-continuous story like it should have been. In Return, the characters introduced the ultimate clash of good and evil ends with surprising results given Tolkien’s unique way of writing the conclusion of the Ring’s journey while giving hope to the future. Characters introduced and written about that have survived are given their own exits to give off a sense of completeness. Upon finishing The Return of the King, readers will feel a sadness to the ending Tolkien’s epic while longing to know what the story would read in one-volume.

View all my reviews

Eric (Discworld #9, Rincewind #4)

Eric (Discworld, #9)Eric by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Rincewind returns to the Disc’s plane of existence in the 9th installment of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, unfortunately the inept wizard’s return is not one of the series’ best.

Rincewind returns to the Disc, unfortunately an inept teenage demonologist named Eric has conjured him from dimension he was trapped in and believes him to be a demon.  What Rincewind and Eric do not know is that they are pawns in a game by a demon lord against the reigning demon king who has ‘modernized’ Hell.  Rincewind and Eric find themselves running through history, namely backwards, to the point before history began with not only Luggage trailing them but the Demon King himself upset by the fact that a human is “pretending” to be a wizard and stealing a young “recruit.”  And then the pair have to literally surviving from one end of Hell to the other before Rincewind is able to take up where he left of his boring, yet terrifying life in “Sourcery.”

While the humor was present in the book, it wasn’t as good as previous installments including previous Rincewind centric ones.  The short length resulted in the ending to be tied up quickly with the sudden introduction of the demon lord’s masterplan and it’s end result happening in about two pages.  Overall it felt like Pratchett wanted to get Rincewind back on the Disc for future adventures and wrote a short story to get him back, the book wasn’t bad but it didn’t feel like a “true book”.

View all my reviews

Brave New World

Brave New WorldBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars

Aldous Huxley’s cautionary tale of the price of contentment has been lauded as his prophetic masterpiece, unfortunately upon finishing “Brave New World” I found neither a masterpiece nor junk it was just an average book that didn’t seem to have a clear story.

Huxley constructs a blissful world in which no person has connections with anyone else and everyone has a place in society, on the surface the potential introduction of a nonconformist or an individual whose worldview is totally counter to Huxley’s World State seems to be the perfect material for a story.  Unfortunately Huxley’s narrative is rich on world building and societal construction, but not on plot or character development.  In fact after finishing the book, I still had not figured out what the central conflict was.

While others might find great meaning in this book, I was left looking for something to hang an opinion on and could only find it with one word, meh.

View all my reviews