Tuesday, February 19, 2008

News for the Day

I've started out this post with two book covers. One is the new Maximum Ride cover, and the other is for the forthcoming Septimus Heap novel. They're both intriguing. I think I like this Final Warning cover better.
Some other interesting news: HD-DVD has lost the war with Blu-ray, and Toshiba has said it will stop producing their format of High-definition DVD.
Fidel Castro has retired from being "president" of Cuba.

Some DVD releases:

Enchanted, March 18

National Treasure-- Book of Secrets, May 20

Friday, February 15, 2008

"The Spiderwick Chronicles" movie review

So I read these books when they came out. They had a nice cover scheme, and I love these types of stories. They were wonderfully written and illustrated, and a nice escape from reality. I heard they were making a movie out of all the books and instantly became skeptical. But I still saw it today. First, before it started the new Indiana Jones trailer played, and that put me in a good mood.

The movie is fantastic.

Jared, Simon , and Mallory Grace (played by Freddie Highmore and Sarah Bolger, respectively) have just moved into the old mansion once owned by their great-aunt Lucinda Spiderwick. Her father, Arthur, had vanished one day, and it seems to have driven her mad. She ranted on that fairies had kidnapped him and was found with slices on her arms. Thinking her to be out of her mind and suicidal, she was, for lack of a better phrase, put away.

In the old house, strange things begin to happen. Objects being stolen, frightening noises, and messages written in dust show something is not right. Jared investigates and finds an old book of Arthur's. There is a note on the front telling him not to open it. But, being Jared, he starts to read.

His eyes are then opened to the fantastical world around him, a world of sprites, fairies, hobgoblins, brownies, and griffins. But there are also darker creatures, led by the ferocious ogre Mulgarath, who wants the book for himself. If he gets the book, it will mean death for all those nearby.

This movie has magic. The creatures of the books have been fully realized, and the plot moves as fast as ever. Go see it. You'll be glad you did.

Friday, February 8, 2008

"Skin" and "Blink" review

Skin: Note: this is officially a stand-alone novel. But you'll like it better if you don't think of it as such. Because, by the end the book sheds its own skin, showing us there's a world of mystery lying underneath. If you've read, for example, the Circle Trilogy or Showdown or even House, you'll see some things that ring a bell. And it's not just Sterling Red saying, "Wanna trip?"

Note 2: You probably want to read this before Chosen and Infidel. No spoilers here, though.

Well, now that that's said, on to the review.

Once again, just like any other Dekker novel, this starts off with the characters, as unique and interesting as usual, each one with a mysterious, dark past they're trying to hide. But the truth comes out eventually. This isn't really a story with a main character. If there was, it'd be a tie between the setting and the plot twist. Ooh, love that plot twist.

But a serial killer with a strange name I've already mentioned (Red. Hmm. Goes well with Black and White. Hey, those would make good titles for books! Maybe they could be a trilogy!) brings the cast together and shakes their view of reality. Has a layer of the world's skin been shed, or is this just part of Red's plan? And what about that cast? Is it really what's on the inside that counts?

Don't trust your eyes.

Blink: As far as I can tell, this really is a stand-alone novel. It is now retitled Blink of an Eye.

The future changes in the blink of an eye... or does it?

Aside from Seth's IQ of 193 (higher than Einstein's!), he can see the future. Well, not just one future, but all of the possible futures. And if he follows the wrong future, it could be at the cost of a Saudi princess's life.

This is classic Dekker. Not just classic Dekker, but Dekker at his best. Blink kept me riveted from page one and gave me a perfect way to spend a weekend. Sometimes, as with The Star Wars Holiday Special, I review things so you don't have to see them, but this, along with Skin, I firmly recommend.

Well, don't just read this. Get the books!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

"The Star Wars Holiday Special" review

Let me start off by saying that Star Wars is one of my favorite movie series of all time, in addition to Lord of the Rings. So I tracked down this critically reviled movie out of curiosity. I had to see that little missing chapter.

There's a reason people hate this TV special.

The show starts with some stock footage from Episode IV of Star Destroyers chasing the Millennium Falcon and it cuts to the badly reproduced interior of the ship. Han tells Chewbacca he'll get him back to Kashyyyk in time for Life Day (some sort of Wookiee holiday in which people sing and Wookiees wearing red robes walk into the sun. Go figure.) Then the Star Wars music starts to play. Only 1 hour 55 minutes to go.

An announcer who sounds too happy proclaims, "It's the STAR WARS HOLIDAY SPECIAL! Starring Mark Hammill!" This was shot right after Hammill was in a car accident, and he's got so much makeup on he resembles Michael Jackson. "Harrison Ford! Carrie Fisher!" Ms. Fisher seems to be on some sort of drugs, for her eyes aren't pointing in the same direction. "Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca!" Oh dear. He's in one of the top slots. "Anthony Daniels as C-3PO! Aaand... R2D2 as... R2D2!" This tells you a lot about the show. "Also starring James Earl Jones as the voice of Darth Vader! And introducing... Chewbacca's family!" Eyebrows start to raise. "His wife, Malla! His father, Itchy! And his son, Lumpy!" Not to self: don't name firstborn child Lumpy. He will be picked on at school every day of his life.

And the show begins. The Wookiees are speaking in Wookiee... for 10 minutes... without subtitles. Holding back the urge to throw up, I plunge on. Lumpy starts to look at some kind of holographic circus for a few minutes. Harvey Korman makes his first appearance in the show (out of 3) as a many-armed female host of a Wookiee cooking show.

This is not a movie you can watch all at once. If you're especialy lucky, you'll see one of the versions with the 70's commercials.

The animated part is the best. It has a story. And Boba Fett. Then we get to Life Day, thinking our misfortunes have ended, until... what's that I hear? Could it be the sound of Carrie Fisher singing?

I'll spare you the rest of the gory details. You can find this on the internet if you want to, but trust me, you don't want to. Some movies you avoid like the plague. This movie makes the plague look good.

Monday, February 4, 2008