I’ve been neglecting my blogging duties for other pursuits, but I thought I’d toss up some mini-reviews of movies I’ve seen this spring and books I’ve read for your edification and pleasure. Or something.
The Last Stand
A rousing return to the action films of the 80s! Arnold is back to his quippy best after his extended stint in Sacramento, and we are better for it.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters
I wasn’t sure about this movie before I went to see it. I’d heard both that it was terrible and that it was great. It turned out to be amazing! It blended the “fairy tales are real” story from The Brothers Grimm with the anachronistically awesome weaponry from Van Helsing, but managed to have more fun that either of those, mostly because it never takes itself too seriously.
Zombie romances don’t get the respect they deserve. This quirky take on Romeo & Juliet has its undead heart in the right place.
Escape from Planet Earth
This family flick was fun to watch, particularly in 3D. Brendan Fraser as the heroic-y bigger (but not older) brother who needs his nerdy brother to get him out of his problems is particularly hilarious.
A Good Day to Die Hard
As much as I like seeing Bruce Willis kicking terrorist ass again, this installment in the series was a disappointment. Hope RED2 this summer redeems him.
Jack The Giant Slayer
Surprisingly bloodless, given it’s title. Still, the take on the classic tale is entertaining, if somewhat predictable. The 3D was pretty good.
Oz: The Great & Powerful
So, three powerful women are just waiting around for a bumbling man to come along and save them because prophecy? Uh, okay… Also, a missed opportunity to pay a bigger homage to the original by not having the Kansas segment in 3D. I had higher hopes for this movie.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
I honestly don’t remember much about this one other than explosions. That must mean it was good, right?
Olympus Has Fallen
Super-violent action movie about someone taking over the While House to launch a nuclear strike on the US. Well paced, but I left the theatre with a bad taste in my mouth from all the senseless Secret Service deaths onscreen. Me feeling bad about onscreen cannon-fodder? I hope that isn’t a sign of impending maturity.
Enjoyable animated adventure about family, acceptance, change and growing up. Enough laughs for the whole family, and the voice actors were well chosen.
Great film about an amazing true story. Highly recommend.
Gorgeous visuals and an amazing soundtrack are enough to paper over a plot whose elements are lifted from a dozen different films, but fit well together here.
Iron Man 3
A fitting conclusion to the trilogy, but not much more.
Star Trek: Into Darkness
There are worse places for JJ Abrams to borrow from than Wrath of Khan, but wasn’t the whole point of the last movie that they rebooted the universe and didn’t have to be the same?
Fast & Furious 6
A reasonable follow-up to the last outing. And by reasonable, I mean amazing. I look forward to the sequel teased in the credits.
The story wasn’t great, but the kids enjoyed the humour and I liked the CGI.
By-the-book quest film that didn’t have any huge surprises, but still managed to entertain. Mostly.
Now You See Me
Great caper movie that falls apart in the last twenty minutes. Mandi had a higher opinion than me of the ending, so YMMV.
Man of Steel
Yet another reboot. I suppose if we have to have another take on the Superman franchise, we could do worse than this entry. The ending baffled me, though – the film-makers threw away countless years of continuity to make a point?
White House Down
A buddy cop film, if one of the buddies was the President of the United States. Suffers from the usual buddy-cop movie clichés. Entertaining otherwise.
Both Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy have amazing comedic timing, and this movie had me in stitches at some points. Maybe not a theatre movie, but highly recommended otherwise.
Idlewild by Nick Sagan
Of the two books I read recently where the main character wakes up with amnesia at the opening, this is surprisingly the less imaginative. Apparently, it’s the beginning of a trilogy, but I have no desire to read the rest of it.
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
I don’t think I’ve been this happy with a first-time author’s work since Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. The world-building is fantastic – a sort of Torchwood-like take on the fantastic, but with a mystery to solve at its heart. I sincerely hope that O’Malley returns to this world to give us more.
Midnighters trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
An imaginative take on the idea of escapist fantasy – what if there were a part of the day that only you and some friends had access to, and what if you had special powers during that time of day?
Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld
At this point, I’ll pretty much read anything Westerfeld writes, having previously enjoyed the Uglies Quartet and Midnighters, above. This three-part story is an alternate history of World War 1, with the alliances recast in the light of technology. The Entente, in Westerfeld’s world, are masters of genetics and have created huge beasts (hence the title) to do their work for them. Across the table are the Central Powers, who have a more traditional steampunk-type technology. It sets the stage for a pretty amazing showdown.
Blood Gospel by James Rollins and Rebecca Cantrell
I’m not familiar with Ms. Cantrell’s work, but I’ll read anything Rollins writes, so this take on a religion-fueled war against vampiric powers was definitely on my list. It’s apparently the kick-off novel to a new series, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the next one.
Person of Interest
If you’re not already watching this show, catch up over the summer and start watching immediately!
On Benj’s recommendation, we have started watching this show, and it’s great! Highly recommend.
California 37 by Train
A standout album by a great band. Top tracks include the single “Bruises”, as well as the hilarious “50 Ways to Say Goodbye” and “Mermaid”.
Magnetic by The Goo Goo Dolls
Some great tracks on this, including the single “Rebel Beat”, “Last Hot Night” and “Keep the Car Running”.