Monday, August 25, 2008

Book reviews 8/25

I've been to the bookstore!
The Running Man: The fastest book Stephen King ever wrote, he wrote under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. The premise is simple: in the not-too-distant future, the only way for someone in the bottom class to make money is to sign up for the games. The Running Man is the story of the man who lands himself with the worst game of all, whose title is the same as the book's. In it he must run from the omnipresent and corrupt law enforcement while being billed as a criminal. The longer he survives, the more money he wins his family. Good deal, right?

All in all, this fast read still manages to pack a Stephen King punch. It's a compelling read, impossible to put down, and has plot twists that only King could come up with. Buckle up tight. This one, Constant Reader, is a race to the finish.

My rating: 8.5/10

The Long Walk: Another Bachman book, this was a publication that wasn't accepted when Stephen King was Stephen King. Bachman was the perfect way to get some of his early stories out to the public. The plot: every May, 100 teenage boys gather around in Maine for a life-changing contest. All they have to do is walk at a sustained speed at 4 miles an hour until they find themselves unable. There's a catch, though. If they win they get the Prize: anything they could psooibly need money-wise and more. But if they stop walking, they get shot. The last one to survive wins the Prize.

This book isn't just a thriller. It's also a pageturner of a character study. You get to know everyone on the Walk, also knowing that only one of them will actually live to the end of the book. So, naturally, everyone on the Walk thinks they'll die, and it gives them interesting outlooks on life. All in all, a solid entry from Ki-- I mean, Bachman.

My rating: 8/10

Last of the Nephilim: The Nephilim, an ancient race of giants, are awakening, but which side will they be on? A plot is being hatched by the successors of Morgan Le Fay to combine Earth, Heaven, and Hades, and it seems unstoppable. The storm is coming, and it's time to call the dragons and Oracles of Fire to the fight. But they can't do it alone. They'll need the help of the heir to Arthur-- Billy Bannister.

I have to admit, while I enjoyed the first two Oracles of Fire books, I felt as if they didn't have much of a reason for their existence. But Last of the Nephilim proves that these books were a good idea to write. Maybe all it took was getting Billy and Bonnie back (say that five times fast), but I think it's more than that. Nephilim feels more like the epic fantasy that it needs to be, containing the spirit of Dragons in Our Midst while offering readers something new. I'm really anticipating The Bones of Makaidos.

My rating: 9.5/10

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Movie reviews 8/20

I've been to the movies!

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor: The O'Connells are back, but Imhotep's not. Instead, Rick and Evie go to China because their son, Alex (now 21), has unearthed a different mummy. This one, played by Jet Li, has an army of terra-cotta warriors and mastery over the elements. So things could get kind of tricky.

While it's not as good as the other two, Mummy 3 has all the trappings of a mindless summer action blockbuster, and it pulls them off with relative ease. Besides, it's got Yetis.

My rating: 7/10

Journey to the Center of the Earth: Brendan Fraser's other mindless summer action blockbuster (but not quite as mindless as Mummy 3). This time he plays an unlucky professor named Trevor whose brother's project is failing. His brother was investigating volcanic tubes in 1997-- when he vanished. But the tubes are real, and when Trevor takes his nephew to investigate an Icelandic sensor, they fall into one and find themselves in an adventure that leaped off the pages of Verne's novel.

Honestly, I didn't expect this movie to be as good as it was, and it turned out to be one of the summer's biggest surprises. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see it in 3D, but it seems like it would have worked well in that medium.

My rating: 7.5/10

STAR WARS-- The Clone Wars: Okay, so skeptical doesn't quite cut it. I was more than skeptical about this computer-animated feature. Of course, it had no hype to live up to, so it was an easy feat for it to surpass it. Jabba the Hutt's son is kidnapped, and it's up to the Anakin and his new apprentice, Ahsoka Tano, to rescue it from the clutches of the Separatists, led by Count Dooku and his ruthless, force-sensitive assassin, Asajj Ventress.

For people who say it's too juvenile, watch the original (which I love) again. Some of the dialogue and jokes are so corny, it would almost hurt if you didn't enjoy it so much. STAR WARS is for the kid in all of us, and its essence is captured well in this inatallment. Well, it's more like a really long pilot that lets you know what's in store for the TV series coming out soon. And Kevin Kiner does a pretty good job of emulating, but not imitating, John Williams' powerful score. All in all, a fun way to pass an afternoon, and a nice antidote to The Dark Knight's grim masterpiece.

My rating: 7.5/10