Friday, November 26, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
2. The Raw Emotion. Another sign that this novel is indeed French is the sheer peaks and valleys the characters go through. Fantine's struggles, Valjean's sacrifices, Javert's epiphanies, Marius and Cosette's unrequited love, and the fierce passion of the barricade all hit the reader hard (or at least this reader). I found myself on multiple occasions reaching for a tissue when such an action seems unusual for me. It's all so stunning and beautiful, but at the same time like daggers to the heart. What more can I say? It's Les Miserables.
1. Jean Valjean. He is the focus of Les Miserables, the crux of the action, the reason the novel is the classic that it is. Released from jail on parole (he was there for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread), an encounter with a merciful bishop turns his life around. His goal is at first just to escape, but slowly he changes and wants to make a difference in the world. He strives to prove Javert wrong, that people can change, and he puts his life on the line time after time for other people when he has no reason to at all. His story is the entire point of Victor Hugo's novel, and it is an unforgettable one.
So there you have it. I don't have much more to say that wouldn't seem like mindless ramblings, although I could do those about the novel for hours. Now go read it. Enjoy it. I know you will.
My rating: 11/10. (I know, I know. It seems immature. So sue me.)
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Thursday, August 19, 2010
First off, Andrew Lloyd Webber has not been overly polite in talking about Love Never Dies. This doesn't change the music itself, but my opinion of him has lessened. There is no reason to split the fandom in half, each side calling itself the "true phans" of the original. Despite what Webber and LSD say, true phans are the ones that love to watch and listen to the original Phantom of the Opera. Whether you enjoy the sequel or not, the original is still there, and a true phan will still be able to come back to it whenever they're in the mood for some music of the night.
Second, Love Never Dies shouldn't be compared to the original. It's easy for any critic to do so, but no new musical should be compared to a classic, especially the most popular musical of all time. To do so would be foolish and would only make you seriously hate the sequel.
Third, the ambiguity of the original Phantom's ending is gone now. There's no getting past that, and it's kind of sad. But Webber wanted a sequel, and if he didn't want said ambiguity to exist anymore, he's well within his rights to say what happened after. Personally, I'm very 50/50 about the whole thing, because while the original Phantom has a beautiful ending, there was always a slight nagging at the back of my mind as to how the frankly flimsy relationship between Christine and Raoul would last. And this is especially true because Raoul in the original was a very flat character. He sings great stuff, and "All I Ask of You" is still gorgeous (I listened to it again the other day; I told you I'm a phan), but he's not that interesting.
Moving on now, with Act II!
Entr'acte: It's exactly what it says it is, and it does its job quite well. The musical recap of Act I is tasteful, and the main themes soar quite nicely as it seques into the second half.
Monday, August 16, 2010
My favorite part, however, is when he says The Wise Man's Fear is about 4,000 words shorter than The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. And that book (which is almost out, and my most fanboyish side is already drooling in anticipation) is almost 400,000 words long. So when we finally get out hands on The Wise Man's Fear, it's going to be really well edited, and really, REALLY long.
I can't wait till March 1, 2011.
On a side note, I've gotten some interesting and rather negative comments on my posts over Love Never Dies, and I see that this is more controversial than I had even originally thought. Then don't worry; the Act II post is coming soon.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
Prologue: A short intro. Tries to be creepy and atmospheric, but the show's just begun, and the odd choice of characters for the first scene don't help things.
Coney Island Waltz: A great instrumental piece that introduces many of the themes we'll hear throughout the course of the musical. Very smartly orchestrated, and it has atmosphere the Prologue never could achieve.
That's the Place That You Ruined, You Fool!: Same characters as the start, and this short piece doesn't impress any more than the Prologue did. All in all, a somewhat disappointing intro.
Heaven by the Sea: While I understand what this song is intended to do (show how base the visitors to Coney Island are), and it achieves it, it still feels out of place when compared to the rest of the music.
Only for Him/Only for You: I kind of like this one. It's the first glimpse we've ever really gotten into Meg's head, and the duality of it is likeable. It's also not nearly as overdone as the previous piece.
The Aerie: Another beautiful instrumental piece. Where the music is not always winning, the instrumentals are. Nuff said.
Till I Hear You Sing: Oh, Phantom, it's good to see you again! This piece is phantastic, and is surely a show-stopper on all accounts. Magnificent music of the night, one that's worthy of being lumped in with the original. Bravo!
Giry Confronts the Phantom/Till I Hear You Sing (reprise): This one's great too, if only to hear Karimloo soar his way through the melody again. I'd also like to point out that Liz Robertson does a splendid job as Giry.
Christine Disembarks: Not much to say about this one, no real music.
Arrival of the Trio/Are You Ready to Begin?: The trio is weird, and one of the weakest parts of the new show. They annoy me less and less as I go, but their melodies are sung in strange, off-putting voices, and it doesn't fit in too well.
What a Dreadful Town!...: A Raoul piece where it becomes clear how much the character has changed. A very different, mature Webber piece, and it's kind of good for something offbeat.
Look With Your Heart: A Christine and Gustave duet that makes for lovely listening. It's catchy and quite nice. It almost feels like it could be in The Sound of Music. Be sure to listen until the end, because there's a cool nod to the original in the final seconds after the song has finished.
Beneath a Moonless Sky: A Phantom and Christine duet! It's been too long since "Point of No Return." Webber gets across a lot of information in an emotional, soaring way, and it lays the groundwork for a nice twist.
Once Upon Another Time: Really a continuation of "Beneath a Moonless Sky," but it's beautiful. I greatly enjoy listening to Karimloo and Boggess singing together.
"Mother Please, I'm Scared!": Not much of a new piece, but there's a very cool moment when the Phantom and Gustave first meet. Otherwise, forgettable.
Dear Old Friend: This is a fun layered piece, and the veiled hostility is conveyed nicely. It's also a melody you won't really hear before or after, which makes it an interesting surprise.
Beautiful: Look out, there's a quick nod to the original, but it's only a few notes long! And then Gustave sings, and it makes the Phantom realize something, and makes him sing, which is always good. It transitions directly into...
The Beauty Underneath: This is the most polarizing piece in the whole show. You either like it or hate it. Either way, you can't deny that Gustave's part is awkward and for the most part unnecessary, and the song, while it rocks, is a bit over the top, even for Phantom.
The Phantom Confronts Christine: A secret gets out, the Phantom makes a resolution, and Giry overhears it all. All of it's important to have but doesn't really stick out.
So far, we've got a varied set of songs, much more so that the original, and when it works, it works. It's got some incredibly good moments, as well as some that don't fit. But what's my verdict? Now, now, don't be impatient, we still have Act II to get through!
Friday, August 13, 2010
Scott Pilgrim lives a happy little life as a bass player for a garage band on its way to some semblance of notoriety. His life is filled with animated excitement, complete with significantly younger girlfriend Knives Chau. But things get spun for a loop when Scott encounters Ramona Flowers. She's the girl of his dreams (Literally. She makes deliveries for amazon.ca using a subspace highway in his head. Don't ask, it's not really that big a deal.), and she agrees to go out with him. Scott quickly dumps Knives, and he and Ramona begin to experience "the L word" for each other.
And then things get spun for a loop again. Scott finds out first via e-mail, then attack, that Ramona has something of a violent past. Namely, seven evil exes who have formed a league to keep anyone else from dating Ramona. Cue energetic fight sequences in the spirit of classic video games!
This is a polarizing movie if I ever saw one. Half the audience in the theater couldn't stop laughing, and the other half barely laughed at all. It depends who you are, really. Or rather, how geeky you are. And I am geeky, I'll be the first to admit, so I had a blast.
The visuals are over the top and unique to a wonderful degree. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is a saturated movie in every sense of the word. It's saturated with action, saturated with the visuals, and saturated with jokes, both in the foreground and the background. Combatants flash red when they are on low health. Baddies burst into coins when they are felled. Scott graps a 1-UP icon, saying he's "getting a life."
Scott Pilgrim's sense of fun is contagious. The action is delightful and comic-booky. The humor is ever-present. The acting is purposefully, enjoyably cheesy. The visuals pop like those of Speed Racer desperately wanted to. And it's probably one of the weirdest, most original movies you'll see this year. Do see it, by the way. It's great fun, and perhaps the only film which uses the line, "I'm in lesbians with you."
My rating: 9.5/10
Coming Soon: Ooh, a lot of stuff. But I'm not making any promises.
Thursday, August 12, 2010
Friday, August 6, 2010
Saturday, July 31, 2010
Carrie: Well, ladies and gents, it's time to go back. Way back. All the way back to the beginning. That's right. The very first Stephen King novel ever published, all the way back in the 1970s. The one that started it all. It's the novel about the little telekinetic girl that could, and the prom night that no one will ever forget. We all know a Carrie White, so be warned...
For a first novel, this is a really solid effort. The pages turn with ease, and Stephen King's telltale style shines through brightly. I enjoyed this lovely festival of horror, especially since it has a different method of unspooling from the rest of King's works. The amalgamation of multiple sources, mixed in with traditional narrative text, gives Carrie a unique feel, something akin to Avi's Nothing But the Truth, but much, much darker. It's not King's best, but it'll give you chills nonetheless.
My rating: 9/10
Cujo: Man's best friend is about to become his worst enemy. When a normally lovable dog comes into contact with the shadows, the lives of a family will never be the same. Simple in premise, yet multifaceted in its approach, this one bites.
Rarely has any Stephen King story been so basic: Mother and son are trapped in an overheating car by a rabid dog. But King tells it differently than just a straight-up scare-fest. Which it could easily become. But the characters themselves lend the book drama. 400 pages of Cujo trying to break into a car might eventually get boring. King makes it more special. No book this basic should provide this much white-knuckle enjoyment. And yet, King makes this one into a winner. Not as good as his best, but still an excellent, different, read.
My rating: 9/10
Coming Soon: The Desert Spear and more.
Friday, July 30, 2010
The Sorcerer's Apprentice: It's a movie about that classic story of boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy gets involved in long-standing wizard's feud, boy has a nervous breakdown, etc. In all seriousness, This is a movie about Dave (Jay Baruchel), a hopelessly geeky kid-- which doesn't at all remind me of myself-- who becomes a major player in the plans of Balthazar Blake (Nicolas Cage), a powerful sorcerer and former apprentice to Merlin. Dave is also hunted, however, by a darker sorcerer, Maxim Horvath (scenes stolen by Alfred Molina), who wants to raise an evil sorceress from the grave.
There was no way I should have enjoyed the movie as much as I did, except for the fact that Bruckheimer and co. were having an absurd amount of fun making it. Sorcerer is not afraid to poke fun at itself, and it never takes itself too seriously. Some of the action setpieces are creative and kinetic without resorting to Bourne-esque shaky cam. And the scene that pays homage to the Fantasia short is great. It's not going to be one of the best movies of the year, or even most profitable, but it is a good time at the cinema for the whole family.
My rating: 8.5/10
Inception: Hoo, boy. The big one. The one we've been waiting for since the bizarre teasers last year. Especially since it's from Christopher Nolan, the mastermind behind Memento. And The Prestige. And Batman Begins. And The Dark Knight (ever heard of that one?). I can't explain this film. To do so would take ages, and I just wouldn't be that good at it. Can I just say see it?
No, I don't think it's quite as good as The Dark Knight, and it's impact on a genre won't be like the aforementioned film. But it's still really, really good. It's a multilayered (literally) tale about dreams, with Leonardo DiCaprio's best performance to date. Actually, almost all of the actors give their best performances to date. Hans Zimmer's score is unique and suits the film. The action is nail-biting and some of the best I've seen this year. The story makes you think, but you never get tired of constantly focusing on this two-and-a-half hour film. The world it creates is fantastic, and it raises some great questions about the nature of dreaming. Now go see it. Seriously, there's at least a few things in there for everybody.
My rating: 9.5/10
Coming Soon: Steven King and The Desert Spear.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Sunday, July 25, 2010
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Sunday, July 11, 2010
My rating: 9.5/10
The Return of the King: Winner of 11 Oscars, this is the final part of the saga of The Lord of the Rings. Sauron unleashes his forces upon Gondor, and Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli struggle to combat it. They go into a haunted mountain in search of a secret weapon to turn the tide. Gandalf and Pippin ride fast to Gondor to bring a warning, but the steward, Denethor, has turned to madness, and they quickly become embroiled in the conflict. And Frodo, Sam, and Gollum journey the final stretch to Mordor, where Sauron waits to reclaim his prize.