Friday, April 30, 2010

Tin Man starring Zooey Deschanel

Tin Man is a miniseries that was shown on the Sci-Fi channel and which came out in December of 2007. It stars Zooey Deschanel (as D.G.), Neal McDonough (as Cain, the Tin Man), Alan Cumming (as Glitch, the Scarecrow) and Raoul Trujillo (as Raw, the Lion).  It is based upon the Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum but adds a lot of fantasy and science fiction and takes many, many liberties.  The characters are based on Wizard of Oz characters and the land is the O.Z. (Outer Zone).

At the beginning of the series, we meet DG, a teenage waitress in Kansas that is tiring of her life there, feels that there is something that makes her different from the people that she works and lives with (even though she can't put her finger on exactly what) and is haunted by dreams of a woman with lavender eyes telling her that a storm is brewing. And a storm does come - Azkadellia (played by Kathleen Robertson), aka the Wicked Witch - sends a troop of her long coat policemen to kidnap DG and bring her back to the O.Z. DG escapes by jumping into the travel storm that brought the longcoats to Kansas and meets, in short order, Wyatt Cain, Glitch and Raw in the O.Z. The troop learns that Azkadellia is searching for an emerald with which to permanently cause the O.Z. to become dark and that D.G. inherited that knowledge when DG's mother revived her after Azkadellia killed DG using dark magic. Therefore, DG is the key to Azkadellia's success. The group then begins a search to find the Mystic Man (played by Richard Dreyfuss) in the hopes of stopping Azkadellia from ruining the Outer Zone.

I had high hopes for this movie/mini-series. The concept was very promising - an updated, edgier version of the saccharine movie and children's book that we all know. And in some ways it delivered, but in some ways it did not.  I really liked Zooey Deschanel - she totally redefined Dorothy and was just fun.   McDonough was appropriately cast as the Tin Man, as was Alan Cumming as the Scarecrow. I didn't like the Tin Man though at all, the character was just too two dimensional. He was driven too much by cynicism. The story was an interesting re-telling of the previous version and I thought it was pretty creative.

For anyone interested in the movie, I've included the Amazon link.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

New addition

So I added a paypal button to the sidebar. It only asks you to donate a buck. Donations are totally appreciated but not necessary. I plan on using the money to put into a savings account that I'm opening for Nate and one that I'm opening for the peanut that is on the way.

Thanks for your support!

The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder by Rebecca Wells

Rebecca Wells is, perhaps, best known for The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which was made into a movie starring Ashley Judd.

The Crowing Glory of Calla Lily Ponder is Wells' latest novel. It follows the life of Calla Lilly Ponder, a girl born in the small, rural town of La Luna, Louisiana. Calla Lily is followed from her adolescence, through her teen and college years and ends around her thirtieth birthday.  It documents her relationships, her struggles and her career choices.

This book was nowhere near how good Ya-Ya Sisterhood was, because, mostly, the cast of characters was forgettable, including the book's namesake. They weren't sassy or fun. They were flat and two dimensional and utterly boring. The only thing that I liked about the characters was that Calla Lily was all heart and earnest, but even that got boring, frustrating and tenuous at times. There has to be more to someone than their heart right?! The story was utterly predictable and the writing was just plain awful in parts. The dialog seemed to drag.  That being said, I did appreciate how Wells developed the relationships between the women in her novel - that seems to be her strongest skill. And the skill showed here - it was the only grace in this novel.

This is a book that Wells fans should skip.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Avatar, review

Normally, I would put the names of the most recognizable of the names next to the movie title in the title of this blog post (like Avatar, starring Sigourney Weaver) but  I figured everyone would know what I was talking about just by putting the title in.

For those of you that have been in the dark or with your head in the sand, here is the trailer:

This movie came out in 2009 and was written and directed by James Cameron. It stars Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez, Sam Worthington and Stephen Lang. The film is set in the year 2154. Humans have discovered Pandora and are mining a precious mineral, unobtanium, from that world. Continued mining, however, threatens the Na'vi, the native, sentient humanoid species that inhabits Pandora. Avatars are the genetically engineered bodies that are used by the scientists to interact with the Na'vi. The movie begins with us learning that Jake Scully (Worthington), who is paralyzed from the waist down, has been selected to replace his brother in working one of the Avatars.  On a mission while he is in the Avatar, he is separated from the group and has to spend the night in Pandora, alone. While doing so, he meets Neytiri (Saldana), a real Na'vi and begins to form bonds with the Na'vi that are threatened when the mining colony seeks to expand into the Na'vi spiritual grounds and culminates with an epic battle.

I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting a whole lot from this movie.  I mean, James Cameron has blockbusters mostly because he knows how to pull on our heartstrings and resolve things in a way that makes things feel "right." So bravo to him for exploiting psychology I guess but, in my opinion, some of the best movies are the movies that don't always resolve in that psychologically fulfilling manner. I found that the story line was really predictable, from the very first moments when you learn that Worthington's paralyzed character is set to become an Avatar and my predictions ended up being correct most of the time - like 99% of the time.  I found myself thinking "here's what's going to happen now" and it did.  The characters weren't very memorable either. For instance, Sigourney Weaver came back to work with Cameron as Dr. Grace Augustine and I saw traces of Ellen Ripley (perhaps Cameron's MOST memorable character).  They were flat and unoriginal and totally not memorable. So in that sense, I wasn't very impressed.

I was very impressed by how the movie looked. It was a beautiful movie to look at. And the effects were literally out of this world (no pun intended). So in that sense, I was drawn in and my attention kept, not because the story was so wonderful but because I literally wanted to see more of what the engineers could come up with. 

This movie, while somewhat entertaining, was not worthy of an Academy Award nod for best movie. Renting may be the way to go, but reserve judgment on whether you could buy it until after you see if you can deal with the predictability.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Lost City of Z by David Grann

The Lost City of Z is a non-fiction book by David Grann. It tells the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett.

Percy Fawcett disappeared in the 1920's with his son and his son's friend while looking for an ancient city in the Amazon, a city that he had named Z. For decades, explorers then went in search for Fawcett in the hopes of finding either him or what had happened to him, often without much luck (often disappearing themselves). Grann, a journalist who never did ANYTHING in the outdoors (and took the elevator up two flights to his apartment instead of walking it) decided to go in search of Fawcett himself AND he was able to reveal new evidence how Fawcett died and whether he had really found his city or not.

I found this book to be alternatively captivating and then quite boring. There were parts that were absolutely fascinating. I found the parts about Fawcett's early life and the author's life and motivations to be really, interesting. Oftentimes, the parts about the various explorations that Fawcett went on before his latest and greatest were boring. They were all the same and they all ran into each other. There was nothing to distinguish them and I found my attention lagging at those parts. I would have to put the book down and then come back to it later on. The book itself was very well written and very well researched. I was very impressed about the depth of information that was presented - Grann went all out.

I walked away generally liking the book, in spite of its slow points.


So, I've opted to move my review blog here. :) It used to be here but I'm tired of using that site, so I'm here now instead. I hope you enjoy!

The Power by Naomi Alderman

If you liked The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, you will want to read this dystopian novel, which has won a number of awards in th...