Monday, January 20, 2014

Edward Gorey

"More is happening out there than we are aware of. It is possibly due to some unknown direful circumstance.” 
-Edward Gorey

Monday, January 6, 2014

Movie Review: The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug (or, "The Hobbit: Hope You Like Decapitations")

So...The Hobbit, part 2. I didn't really like The Hobbit, part 1. I though it was boring and slow and really dark and violent. But it did look cool, and that matters to me in a 3-hour movie. I would have rather watched these movies than 3 hours of, say, ESPN. But that's a pretty low bar.

Still, The Hobbit 2 was much better than the first movie. They put a lot more interesting things in this one and it has a lot better set pieces. Locations were great, and there were some actual entertaining sequences, most notably the barrel river escape sequence. That was really well done.

But this one is still really dark and violent. It's been about 25 years since I last read The Hobbit but I remember it being about 90% to do with Gollum in the mountain and there was a part with trolls and MAYBE there was a dragon in there towards the end somewhere, and that was about it. I don't remember it crawling with horrifying orcs and spiders and having the Hobbits decapitate most of them in really explicit detail. Why can't movies just be light and fun anymore?

Plus, it's the 2nd movie-we really need to start killing off dwarves. I know I just said the movie should be lighter and now I'm calling for killing at least half of the cast, but they really don't serve any point anymore and they don't have distinctive personalities, really. Have half of them be eaten by the dragon, maybe. That would be fun.

I really think they were created so that their names would sound funny when Gandolf read them all out. It's like 'Dwarlin, Marlin, Tweeby, Feeby, Deeby, Oin, Gro'in, Flo'in, Ziddy, Fiddy, Biddy, Burry, Surry, Tarlin, Farlin, and our leader, Thorin Oakenshield."

So go and see it, sure. There's nothing else out, and it's clean other than for the NC-17 - rated violence. If you're looking for the Desolation of Smaug, however, look elsewhere. This movie is more like 'the two and a half hours of dwarves getting captured by everyone in middle earth, and the exploration of the boring lives of minor side characters, and then the monologue of Smaug.' There's no desolation. That appears to be held off for the last movie, which I assume is called "The Hobbit and the Dragon Whose Named is Pronounced Differently by Everyone in the Movie."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Book Review: Tyrannosaur Canyon, by Douglas Preston

I guess Douglas Preston has become my new Michael Crichton. Ever since MC passed away, the literary world has really lacked for a very entertaining, interesting author. DP in my opinion doesn't have as unique of a voice as MC, and he sorely lacks for humor, but he writes very cinematic-like movies; ones that you can very easily see being turned into movies, though so far I don't think any of them actually have. But they're clean and they're fun and they make for a good read.

Preston reminds me of Crichton because he, like MC, extensively researches his books. This book has a great deal of scientific information in it, and you can tell in parts where the military is speaking or lab techs are speaking that the jargon they're using and processes they're describing are accurate. That helps the books feel somewhat more realistic.

Tyrannosaur Canyon was, to me, a lot stronger than Cabinet of Curiosities. The story is more straightforward and it had some decent twists. I won't give away anything because the main crux of the story doesn't really get revealed until about 40% of the way through the book. But basically it's the story of a treasure hunter who gets murdered at the beginning of the book; a man finds him and, before he dies, he gives the man a notebook containing a highly encrypted code, and asks him to get it to his estranged daughter. The story is about staying away from the murderer, trying to find this daughter, trying to identify the treasure hunter, and trying to find his treasure.

The book is really well-paced. But, like Cabinet of Curiosities, there's not really a single laugh in the entire thing. Humor can go a long way in books like this, and this could have really used a lighter touch here and there. And although I liked the ending, I thought the location of the entire last 20% of the book was one of the least interesting locations the author could have picked. It's even more frustrating because the location just PRIOR to the whole ending location is a cool spooky abandoned gold mine. Why not hang out in there?

Still, good characters, a good story, decent twists, and clean dialogue and situations for the most part entirely throughout made this a recommended read.