Hugo

There is a saying in my family when it comes to watching movies, and that is ‘if it has an Oscar or was nominated for one, it’s either a tear jerker or downright boring!’  The only exceptions to the rule are films that fall under the animation and special effects categories.  As you know Hugo is nominated for 11 Oscars, but I wanted to see it because it looked like a beautiful enchanted adventure.  Well my sister and I got bored, and I don’t get bored at the movies often.  Half way through the film my sister and I had a conversation about the piece of tissue I had my 3d glasses resting on because I didn’t want a mark left on my nose by the glasses.  The film operates in two halves, the first part focusing on Hugo, the second part focusing on the mystery of Georges Méliès.  To my mind the story could have been greatly condensed, especially the leading up to Georges Méliès back story.  I really enjoyed the second half of the film, especially the referencing of early cinema.  My sister and I have Bachelors Degrees in English and Film and we enjoyed the references to the early years of film.  Especially seeing actual footage from other of Méliès works, and then seeing the fictional production of these works in the film, I really enjoyed that.  Unfortunately by then I was really bored, the pace was just too slow, so no matter how enjoyable I found the second half of the movie, I was still bored and restless.  I couldn’t help but think ‘I should have gone to see the Phantom Menace in 3D’.  The only thing stopping us from leaving the cinema was the fact that we had spent R65 to watch it, and couldn’t justify wasting the money by walking out.  Hugo was beautiful to look at, the scenes of Paris, the train station was a stunning set, and the many scenes that take place in the under belly of the station, with all its steam pipes, and the repairing of the big clocks, showing all the gears, made stunning visuals, but pretty to look at doesn’t mean enjoyable.  And I love Asa Butterfield, I’ve watched him in BBC’s Merlin, where he plays the cutest little ‘future doom’ for Arthur.  I also enjoyed him in Nanny McPhee Returns, and yes while I enjoyed his performance in Hugo, it still doesn’t save the film from the fact that I found it boring.  I was surprised and disappointed by Hugo, with equal amounts of boredom and enjoyment, but overall, I wasn’t very impressed by the narrative of the film.  It could have been told in a less meandering way, and the only excuse I can find for allowing this story to plod along as it did, is the fact that it is a Martin Scorsese film, and we all know that he doesn’t know how to make shorter films.

 

The Accidental Sorcerer

I have just finished reading a fantastic book.  I want to be eloquent when reviewing this book because it deserves praise, but I’m not very good when it comes to book reviews and using literary jargon.

The book is The Accidental Sorcerer, Book One in the Rogue Agent Series, written by K.E. Mills, which is a pseudonym for the fantasy author Karen Miller.  What is the point of a pseudonym when the information linking the real person to the pen name is available?  Pseudonyms are about anonymity, you write under a different name so as not to gain attention, it seems a bit pointless.  Anyway, Karen Miller seems to be a fairly successful fantasy author, I actually discovered I have one of her other books, The Innocent Mage, but don’t ask me what I thought of it, the beginning was so dry, I got bored and stopped reading, which is sad because the blurb on the back of the book sounded good.  I’ll give it another chance some time.

So the Accidental Sorcerer, I’ll give you the blurb on the back of the book (what is the official term I can’t remember), since it’s what made the book sound so appealing to me.

Gerald Dunwoody is a wizard.

Just not a particularly good one.

He’s blown up a factory, lost his job and there’s a chance that he’s not really a Third Grade wizard after all.  Career disaster strikes again.

Luckily, an influential friend manages to get him a posting.  So it’s off to New Ottosland to be the new Court Wizard for King Lional.  His back-up, an ensorcelled bird with a mysterious past, seems dubious.  But it’s New Ottosland, or nothing.

Unfortunately, King Lional isn’t the vain, self-centred young man he appeared to be.  With a Princess in danger, a bird-brained back-up and a kingdom to save, Gerald soon suspects he might be out of his depth.  And if he can’t keep this job, how can he become the wizard he was destined to be…?

This booked appealed to me because it sounded different and unusual.  I think I was in the mood for a disastrous character, one who caused havoc unintentionally but had good intentions at heart.

I loved the book;  I loved its style and the characters voices.  Gerald Dunwoody is a kind, selfless, naive wizard, he sees the good in all people, and Gerald doesn’t really cause disaster but rather ends up being in the wrong place at the very wrong time.  Actually Gerald isn’t hapless, just unlucky.  What makes this book fun is the women who surround Gerald.  He himself isn’t a very abrasive, confrontational person, but his bird Reg is, and his employer Princess Mellissande, and when Reg and Mellissande butt heads, it fabulous to read.  Mellissande is an argumentative, no nonsense kind of person, and Reg is a snarky opinionated bird who doesn’t censor what she says, two very explosive characters butting heads with Gerald in the middle, it is as much fun to read their fights as it is to ‘see’ Gerald squirm.  Other characters are just as likable, such as Gerald’s best friend Monk Markham, and Prince Rupert who’s as hapless and dotty as they come.  He’s one of my favourite characters, he is this affable Prince who’s absolutely batty over butterflies.  I loved Rupert’s misadventures with his flesh eating butterflies.

I loved the cheekiness of this book, I love the quarrelsome natures of the two main female/ bird characters, I loved Gerald’s good nature and his moral dilemmas, and like I said I love Rupert.  I loved the book because you really can’t predict where the story will go next.  The Accidental Sorcerer is a fantastic, exciting, sassy, funny read I highly recommend it to fantasy fans.

Underworld Awakening

The first Underworld movie is one of my favourite movies of all time;  I find it cinematically gorgeous, and Selene played by Kate Beckinsale is just so awesome.  Kate Beckinsale with short hair and those bright blue contacts makes her look absolutely stunning, and then you stick her in that black skin tight leather outfit, with all the intricate detail in the bodice,  stick a gun in her hand, and you get quite possibly the most kick ass female character ever, followed by Milla Jovovich as Alice in Resident Evil.

 

I loved the aesthetic of the world created in Underworld.  The opulent Vampires and the ragged Lycans, it’s your typical star-crossed lovers story, although instead of one being a human and the other a vampire, the other is a human turned werewolf who then ends up turning into a vampire-Lycan hybrid.

I must be quite frank when I say I was utterly disappointed with the sequel.  Admittedly I may have been slightly biased since the first film was just so beautiful and then the second was disappointing because there were no beautifully shot scenes or stunning costumes.  While the second film doesn’t have any striking shots, Selene strikes some really cool poses, in fact in every movie Selene always strikes awesome poses in battle.  I just felt the storyline of the second film was a bit weak, especially the driving force behind Marcus, I had been dying to see who would play him.  I enjoyed Tony Curranas Marcus, until he went all weird ugly bat-thing crazy at the end.  Another thing that really bugged me in the second film was Sonja’s necklace, and how it goes from a flat 4cm by 4cm pendant in the first movie, to being double sided like a locket, that grows in size throughout the film until it’s this huge cumbersome thing that they no longer wear but carry around by the chain, because it’s so big if either of them wore it they would fall over.  I really liked Corvinus travelling around on his boat, an ancient immortal doing damage control for his descendants, then giving Selene his blood so that she becomes a vampire who can live in sunlight and god know what else.  I was pretty angry when they blew up the ship;  I thought Selene and Michael could inherit it from Corvinus and start their own weird little coven.

When Underworld:  Rise of the Lycans came out I was dying for a decent Underworld film.  I was really excited because this was a prequel movie about Lucian and Sonja;  I was also disappointed because it was a prequel movie and not a threequel for Selene.  Truthfully I didn’t mind too much that it didn’t have Selene in it since I’m totally in love with Lucian, not Michael Sheen the actor, but his character.  Rhona Mitra was a perfect choice for Sonja since she looks uncannily similar to Selene, and she has a strong presence.  It also had some of the first Underworld’s magic, which I didn’t feel in the second film.  The second films premise just felt so weak.

Underworld Awakening was a surprise, I was not expecting another Underworld anytime soon.  The story felt fresh, different for the Underworld franchise, it finally took the story away from the vampire covens and gave us a new villain, humanity.  Now I am going to give a little spoiler, Scott Speedman who plays Michael, is not in this film.  Well he is but he isn’t, we see him once at the beginning of the film, and then once at the end. The rest of the film Selene runs around heartbroken and tortured because she thinks Michael is dead, but we all know he isn’t.  What bothered me was I couldn’t decided whether the man I was seeing was Scott Speedman or whether it was a stand-in with Scott Speedmans’ face edited in.  Well that’s about as much as I can say about the film without giving it all away.  I’m sure you can figure out the basic storyline by watching the trailer.  I really enjoyed the twists in the plot, because I honestly wasn’t expecting them.  There was some new eye candy, vampire David played by Theo James.  I was also very excited to see Kris Holden-Ried, Dyson the wolf from Lost Girl, whom I totally love in that series.  I did feel his character was slightly wasted, but I was happy to see him.  The action in this film was fantastic, Selene looks awesome in every frame of her battles, but I did notice that Selene seemed to be taking harder hits, and she spent a lot of her time being flung hard against walls, in between her gravity defying stunts.  I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching this film, and while I really did miss Michael, I enjoyed watching Selene grow more emotionally.  It felt ‘fresh’ in the sense that you can see the franchise expanding in a different direction and growing.  I believe if handled correctly the next movie could be brilliant.

Labyrinth

Labyrinth is a Jim Henson movie that came out in 1986 starring David Bowie as a glitter covered, spandex wearing Jareth the Goblin King, who kidnaps the baby brother of Sarah, played by jailbait Jennifer Connelly.  It is a strange movie, just because it has puppet doesnt mean its for kids, the puppets are actually kinda creepy, especially this one scene where is on a lack background and they start taking their heads off and throwing them around. seriouslyl creepy,plus theres all this of sexual tension between Jareth and Sarah, which is slightly disturbing since she is only 15.  The movie is one of those classic corny 80’s magic movies, a flop when released, but has a strong cult following.  I watched it often when I was little; it’s actually a bit on the dark side for kids.  So I grew up (well I aged), forgot many of my childhood films, got nostalgic and went looking for all my old favourites so I could re-watch them.

I recently came across a web comic that is a fan comic of sorts for Labyrinth and that’s what brought the film back to my attention.  The web comic is called Girls Next Door, created by a girl on Deviant art who calls herself pika-la-cynique and it’s about Sarah from Labyrinth, who is now in college, and the web comic begins with her new roommate, Christine, moving in.

Turns out that Christine is from The Phantom of the Opera, and both have weird, tortured, supernatural stalkers. Both girls are looking to live normal lives free from their ‘respective stalkers-slash-suitors’, which backfires drastically when the girls discover that their twisted obsessive stalker suitors are living downstairs!  Now the fun begins. I love this web comic; it’s full of angst, neurosis, funny gags, crazy antics, fan service, and guest appearances by other crazy film and book characters.  The writer/ artist seems to love Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp characters, and Legolas often shows up too.  He is portrayed in an unusual light, often the comic relief, plus, who doesn’t want more Legolas in any form.  I particularly enjoy the one or two Twilight crossovers.

There has been Sweeny Todd, Edward Scissorhands, Legolas and a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean, Twilight, Star Wars i.e. Leia, some Terry Pratchett, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Howl and Sophie from Howls Moving Castle, Jareth’s parents make an appearance as, I would say, the best two fantasy villains ever.  There is some Narnia, and Danny from Game of Thrones appears as well.  There’s a plethora of movie and book references and character appearances, and it is such fun to read and identify these references and see some of your favourite characters act in different ways and grow in different directions when not confined by the lore of their films.

This is one of my favourite pages because it is an exciting crossover with some of my favourite characters.  I especially love this page because an older version of Chihiro from Spirited Away is in it.  For some reason I find this depiction of her just so appropriate, and if I were to imagine an older Chihiro this is what she would look like.  I also love the little groups mentioned in this pages, the Wibsy’s and the Fangbangers.  It made me laugh;  it’s such a clever idea.

So, a bit out of order but this is the page before the one I’ve just shown, it is another example of how much fun crossovers can be if done cleverly.

I like to try and guess who they are before I cheat and look at the bottom of the blurb under the picture of Pika’s deviant art page, to see who’s actually in the comic that week.

I really love the relationship that has evolved between Sarah and Jareth, its complex and messy and the characters do grow, the writer has taken what was created in the 80 film and pushed it further, and doesn’t let the official film lore prevent further development.

Oh I forgot to mention that the main reason I love this web comic, apart from the great writing, dialogue and comedy, is the art.  I love the style;  I love the fantastic facial expressions that this artist creates.  I admire her style and talent.

http://pika-la-cynique.deviantart.com

Some other examples