Thursday, July 26, 2012

A look at Bane (Warning Dark Knight Rises Spoilers)

*Warning: The following post contains heavy spoilers for the Dark Knight Rises. If you have not seen that film; get to the theater the fastest way possible and watch it. Then come back and read this if you like. I would appreciate if you did both.*

I loved The Dark Knight Rises. I wanted to do a review, but figured it was sort of pointless. Especially now that if you haven't seen the movie you probably won't. One of the things I loved most was Bane. Tom Hardy was terrific. His voice fit the character perfectly, and he was intimidating as hell. There were several scenes where I was speechless afterward. He was absolutely nothing like the comic Bane, but the Nolan Batman films were hardly close to the comics. He was Nolan's creation; comic Bane in name only.

I recently ran into a friend of mine in a bookstore(mostly because I hate hipsters, and I was going to go glare at them) and asked him what he thought of the movie. He didn't like it. As of now the only people I know who didn't love that film are him and that critic who got all the death threats on Rotten Tomatoes. One of the reasons he said he did not like the film was Bane. What? I asked. Bane was one of my favorite parts. The specific reason, he claimed, was that Bane really didn't do anything except beat people up. He said everything else was actually Talia. I thought about this, and agreed to a point. His statement actually got me to realize what Bane essentially was; a mask.

What is one of the common themes Of Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy? That Bruce Wayne is actually Batman's mask. That when Bruce Wayne created Batman; he himself ceased to exist. There was now only Batman. Batman then created the mask of the fictionalized Bruce Wayne,(the playboy womanizer type that Gotham believed him to always be.) and used that as a mask to hide who he now was; The Batman. The same is true for Bane and Talia. Though the situation with them is a bit more diabolical.

Okay, we know the story from the film. Talia was the daughter of  Ras al Ghul(Liam Neeson from Batman Begins.)and the daughter of a warlord. Her mother was banished to a secret prison while she was pregnant with her. After she gave birth her mother died, and Talia was taken under the protection of Bane who helped her escape. Bane was attacked during her escape and permanently wounded, but was rescued from the prison by Talia and Ras later. Talia and Bane later try to recreate her father's vision during the events of The Dark Knight Rises.

One of the major complaints I heard was that we never learn much about Bane. Well, yeah. That's the point. We learn just enough to know how he met Talia. That's all we should know. Revealing more would ruin the character. Bane even says in the movie that he was nobody before he wore the mask. Nobody cared who he was. It's what separates Batman from any other vigilante. Bane himself is a mask of Talia's. One of two obviously; the other being Miranda Tate. Talia could not have been the poster child for Bane's group. An incredibly muscular masked man is a better leader for an anarchist group than a beautiful woman. Obviously Talia was the mastermind giving Bane all the order's. This relationship is almost abusive in a way, because of the vibe we get from Bane towards Talia. He seems ready to do anything she says even if it risks his own life. He follows her implicitly.You see this in the last and only moment between Bane and Talia where the compassion in Bane's eyes is almost heartbreaking. Like a loyal dog who somehow knows this is the last time it will see it's master. Bane is not afraid; he is only afraid of failing Talia. Bane lacks this fear of death. He is able to ignore it and be unafraid. This allows his followers to be inspired by him, and possibly die in say a plane crash if it serves his cause.

This is why, like Bruce Wayne is Batman's mask, Bane is Talia's mask. He may be physically causing the conflict, but she is pulling the strings and making the decision. I guess a puppet/puppeteer analogy would be more accurate, but I like the mask metaphor. Also, it parallels Batman. Especially how most Batman antagonists mirror him. Most dealing with insanity, and he himself being a guy who dresses a bat and fights crime. They all reflect him in some way. Especially in the Nolan movies.

This analogy is also how I see Bane's conclusion in the film. Most people thought it was a little abrupt. Bane just getting blasted by Bat-cycle(or whatever it's called.). Well think about it. Let's just say I'm right,(hold on, I think hell just dropped a few degrees.) and Bane is supposed to be Talia's mask. Well, just a few minutes before she took off her mask; revealing herself as the child of Ras al Ghul. What good is a mask when your cover is blown? Also, we learned that Bane was a real person. We got to see such raw humanity in those amazing eyes of Hardy's. Bane loved something. He wasn't the monster we assumed him to be. Not completely. So the mask no longer had the same effect.

Or, at least that's how I like to look at it. It probably was that they had to speed things up for the climax. Nevertheless Bane and Talia were great characters in a great movie, which was a conclusion to a great trilogy. I really wanted to write about this. I would love to know what you think.

Swan Song by Robert McCammon Review

The post-apocalypse. What a splendidly morbid setting. So many things can be done in the future wasteland, yet most post-apocalyptic fiction generally feels the same. Not Swan Song.

A nuclear war. Good VS Evil. A young girl named Swan, whose only protection is a worn out wrestler named Josh; who may be the world's only hope. Sister and the glowing ring. The man with the scarlet eye.
Colonel Macklin and the Shadow Soldier, Roland Croninger: the "king's knight". So many great characters. All of which will affect Swan's journey of becoming the last best hope for the human race.

Let me attempt to recite the plot without giving any spoilers: After a nuclear attack; the United States, and presumably the rest of the world, has become a wasteland. Humanity's only hope is a young girl named Swan who may be able to breath life into the dead Earth. Along people will try to protect her from those who wish to harm her.

That is about all I can say without giving too much away, but there is so much more to story than what  I just wrote. This is a book about hope in a world where there is none. About how humanity might be worth saving after it nearly destroyed itself.

There is a small detail that a lot of post-apocalyptic fiction forget about. Hope. Pelting the reader with death and despair. Only to show us a sliver of hope, and hinting that possibly; the world might be saveable. Or even better; worth Saving. This is something that Swan Song exceeds in. You feel how important Swan is, and realize why people would give their lives to protect her. The giant battered wrestler, Josh; and the tough stubborn Sister.

One thing that surprised me about the book is that there are certain parts which genuinely scared me. I'll just write the name of the character(Or at least the name that the characters gave him; his actually name is never revealed; though I'm fairly certain it rhymes with the level.) The man with the Scarlet eye, the man who likes movies, and the most disturbing in context; Friend. He is the head antagonist, and does whatever he can do strip all the hope out of the hopeless wasteland of that nuclear war left the human race.

The two other antagonists are also great. Their story is just as interesting as the other characters without interacting with the protagonists until two thirds into the book. This may sound strange, but it gives the characters time to grow and change. The story keeps you hooked. It constantly keeps the tension up while you are wondering when they are going to meet. I can tell you; when they do, you will not be let down. 

This story is so much different than I thought: in so many great ways. Robert Mccammon is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. He knows how to shape a truly original story that is difficult to predict. I loved this book, It is one of my favorite books of all time,  and recommend it to anyone who loves post-apocalyptic fiction. Or books that are just plain great.

I have heard this book compared to Stephen King's The Stand. I have never read the stand, but from what I've heard; they sound similar plot wise. One thing I would love to see is Swan Song made into a miniseries. The book is around 900 pages, so I don't think a movie could fit in all the important details. Sadly, Robert Mccammon has been ignored when it comes to Hollywood. I don't know why, but there a lot of things about Hollywood that I will never understand. Anyway, Swan Song is terrific. Go buy it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Movie Review

What is with the skull in the moon?
Ugh...Ugh, ugh, ugh, fucking ugh. I want to say this, Seth Grahame Smith is a terrific author. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter(the book) is one of my favorite. It is a dramatic retelling of a great man with a supernatural twist. Unholy Night is an epic re-imagining of the three wise men and How To Survive a Horror Movie is one of the funniest books I have ever read. I have not read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, so I can't attest to it. But it seems that he is not a very good screen writer, because he wrote the screenplay to the film adaptation of Abe Lincoln Vampire Hunter. I have not seen Tim Burton's last film, Dark Shadows which he wrote also. What I have heard isn't good though. This movie is badly written. It really hurts me to say that. Grahame Smith is probably one of my favorite authors, but this movie isn't good. Almost every great line and scene in the book has been taken out. Even if you try to judge it alone without the source material; it's still bad. The more I think about it, the more I dislike it.

Timur Bekmambetov must have a clause in his contract that says every adaptation he makes must be drastically different then the source material. Fans of the Wanted comic books will know what I mean. That said, I really enjoyed Wanted. Okay, I want to stop comparing the movie to the book. To help me with this I am going to list all the things that were added to the film, and were not in the book. I am only going to list the things that bothered me, because there is too much for the rest. Okay here we go. (Breathes in real deep). Abe's super strength, the vampire's super strength, Abe's karate skills, Abe hurling the axe like a katana, he turns the axe into a fucking gun!, the vampires weakness to silver, the vampires ability to turn fucking invisible, ridiculous over-the-top action scenes, the vampire's biblical roots, and a complete disregard for historical accuracy. Meaning the book is very accurate(if you take out the vampire stuff, you still have a pretty decent tale of Lincoln's life). Okay, for the rest of his review I will not mention the book.

You know the gist. Abe Lincoln's mom was killed by a vampire, so he dedicates his life to killing them.  Along the way he meets a man named Henry who helps him, becomes president of the United States, and wins the Civil War. The acting in the movie is very good. Benjamin Walker plays Honest Abe pretty well. The extremely underrated Dominic Cooper is great as Abe's vampire hunting teacher, Henry Sturges. The equally underrated Rufus Sewell and Anthony Mackie play the main antagonist and Abe's best friend. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is also great as Mary Todd Lincoln.There is also a cameo by my buddy Alan Tudyk. Yes, he is my buddy! We fly around space having adventures, play games in my basement, and sing a special song he likes to call "Please let me go, I want to see my family!". I just smile, laugh, and say "Oh Wash, you're such a kidder. He then cries tears of joy, and we go back to watching Firefly. Wait, where was I?

The pacing in the film is terrible. Some scenes are paced well, but some feel extremely boring. Abe's childhood scenes are glanced over. They are basically ignored. The movie does not even try to be historically accurate. You don't even get to see Lincoln's assassination! One of the most important parts of a damn Lincoln biography, and the movie doesn't even show it.

The most annoying thing about the movie is the action scenes. There is really only one good action scene which takes place in a mansion. Even that is plagued by the most annoying gimmick in the movie. SLOW FUCKING MOTION! There is more slow motion is this movie than there is regular motion. It even does that Zach Snyder shit where it slows down and then speeds up. This makes all the movements look very unnatural, and it makes it hard to get immersed in the movie. Also CGI. The movie is very stylish. To a fault actually. There are many huge set pieces that are entirely computer generated. Wide shots of DC and Gettysburg that just look fake. This also affects the climax where CGI fog make it so you cannot see anything. The whole movie is also shot through a grainy filter that makes it look like a History Channel reenactment. Huh, maybe that was the point.

Anyway, Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter is disappointing. Especially since it was written by the same guy as the terrific book and had a very good director. This should have been better. If you really want to see it, I recommend renting it later. Do not waste your money at the theater. Instead use that money to go to your local book store and buy the book. You will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Crooked Tree (short story)

(The story below is my submission to Chuck Wendig's flash fiction challenge at his website Direct link here . The story was an idea I had at two o'clock in the morning. Kept me up, but  I enjoyed writing it. I will warn you, it's a bit morbid. I would probably label this under horror. The image of the tree is from Wendig's website, and taken by him personally.)

Photo from
“I would never kill myself.”  Those words haunted him more than thought of actually committing the deed. Deed. What a sick way of describing such a horrible act. His mind always did this, narrating his life whenever he was alone. Either by himself, or in a group. Yes, anyone can feel alone in a group. Even more so than when they are by themselves. 

Ugh, he’s doing it again. He got this way whenever he went to visit the tree. A scary act of nature it was. A warped tree in the middle of nowhere near his family’s old house. The crooked tree, he called it as a child. He stared at a bit of mold-ridden rope tied around it. Probably used for a tire swing…probably. Everything had a tint of grey out in these woods. Looked like an old photograph a family would take while colonizing the frontier. Sitting in rocking chairs showing off their rifles and shotguns. Looking directly at the camera, but not smiling. No, of course not smiling. Since he was a kid, when everything else was too much or whenever his head hurt from the stress. He liked to come down, go out to the woods, and just stare at the crooked tree. 

 He had an awful headache lately. His grades were plummeting to an all-time low, or so he thought. His professors despised him, or so he thought.  His girlfriend was sleeping with another guy, or so he thought. He was also certain that his roommate was secretly contemplating his murder, or so he fucking thought! He let a good yell and began punching the tree in frustration. Wincing at the pain, but enjoying it nonetheless. He wanted to do it right here. Blow his brains out right on to the damned plant. His blood and grey matter fertilizing the soil around the tree. Becoming part of it….

No, he thought. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. Imagining the apathetic, unsurprised look on his classmates faces as they heard the news. His girlfriend having to fake grief in front of his parents as she rolled her eyes when they weren’t looking. Wishing that she was with the asshole that she was cheating on him with. If she was unhappy why didn’t she just say so? No, fuck that. He would not end as a tragedy. 

Thoughts of this nature always came about when he was here. He wondered why that was. Why themes of morbidity always resonated with him near the tree. He stared at the blood his knuckles had left on the bark. He wanted to continue beating his fists into the wood, but held back. A strange sensation came over him when he saw his own blood on the bark. It was a feeling of satisfaction, of accomplishment. It didn’t feel like him though. If he didn’t know any better, it felt like it was coming from the tree. Like a heartbeat trying to sync up with his. Like it was trying to speak to him. Like it was calling him. He had this feeling before. Many times before, in this very spot. It was scaring him senseless, and it always had.  In fact, he couldn’t think of a single good time he had with the hunk of wood. He was a happy kid. Wasn’t he? Yes, yes he was. Except when he came here. To his family’s old house. To the Crooked Tree. He was drawn to it. He stared up at the mold-ridden rope. He recognized it. Not as the beginning of a tire swing, but as the beginning of his first and only suicide attempt. The realization struck him like a bolt of lightning. He tried to kill himself here during his senior year of high school. Why didn’t he remember that? Why would he come back here? His senior year was one of the best of his life. He was happy then. He…he was happy now. None of the things he was distraught over were true. They felt true. No: his professors seemed to like him, his girlfriend seemed to love him, and he didn’t have a roommate! Did he even remember driving here? What day of the week it was? What month? Why did the lies feel so real?  Then it hit him. He stared up at the crooked tree. At where his blood lay on the bark. He only had suicidal thoughts when he was standing where he was now. He was happy the rest of the time. Yet he kept being drawn to this place. He turned away from the tree and started walking. The feeling of satisfaction pulling at him, yet draining with every step. He popped some painkillers for his headaches, got in his car, and drove away. He wanted to leave this place and never return to the crooked tree. He managed the first one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig Review

Miriam Black knows when you are going to die. This is the tagline to this fun, dark, and violent urban fantasy by Chuck Wendig. I was excited about this book, because the concepts of psychics  intrigues me. People who can see into the future or read the thoughts of others.  A book with a psychic protagonist that is written by Chuck Wendig. Color me intrigued. Really this review is kind of pointless, because once you see that amazing cover art you will want to read it regardless of if it's good. Especially in a time where most book covers consist of angsty teenagers looking at the camera with a single dark color as background.

 As I said, the hero of the story is Miriam Black. A beautiful and damaged drifter who can see how anyone is going to die by touching them. At the beginning of the story she shakes the hand of a kind truck driver named Louis and sees that his death involves her. What follows is a dark, twisted ride that is a hell of a lot of fun.

The best part of the book is the protagonist Miriam Black. I fucking loved Miriam. She's smart, tough, and creatively foul-mouthed.  I would add sexy, but that's a pretty good description right there. Most importantly, though, she's deep.  She has a sympathetic and tragic back story which Wendig only reveals enough to inform you, but also leaves enough mystery to keep you interested. You get happy when she's happy. You cringe when she get's hurt, and she get's hurt. Miriam get's the shit beat out of her, but she always get's back up. That is the trait of a great hero, and Miriam is the hero of this story.You want to see her defy fate even though everything that has happened has said she can't

 The other characters were great, as well.  The gentle giant Louis, the mischievous Ashley, the intimidating Frankie and Harriet. The book has Wendig's signature writing style which is hilarious.  The atmosphere Wendig's writing creates is dark and mysterious.  It gives the reader a sense that anything is possible.

If I have to give a real criticism I would say that some of the different story elements don't seem to click. It feels like some of the characters were taken from a different story and placed in the book for convenience. Even with that said it still works.

Blackbirds was one hell of a ride. A dark, witty, violent, and creatively-foulmouthed adventure on the back of one awesome psychic. I really enjoyed this book. I loved the character of Miriam and can't wait for the sequel Mockingbird in August.

Double Dead by Chuck Wendig Review

Well, I reviewed a book about zombies and a book about vampires. Why not both? Chuck Wendig is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. He has a unique writing style and has a knack for creating incredibly original stories. Seriously check out his collection of short stories called Irregular Creatures. Amazing stories for an incredibly cheap price. Anyway, the first time I read Wendig was when I read a book of his that had an amazing plot. About a vampire trying to survive in a zombie apocalypse...Why didn't I think of that?

Double Dead centers on a vampire named Coburn who wakes up in a theater to a world of the living dead. He soon discovers a group of survivors where brave and innocent Kayla stands up to Coburn and offers him a proposition. You protect us in exchange for blood. There's not a lot of people left in the world and Coburn takes the deal.

From then they go on an adventure that genuinely surprised me. Cannibals, religous zealots, and armed clown settlements. If you have ever wondered what would happen if a zombie bit a vampire, here's your chance to find out. The product is so horrifying that it might actually scare you. Basically Coburn and his sheep(as he so lovingly refers to them) travel down route 66 with cannibals ahead of them and the hunters(the vampire zombie hybrids) hunting them.

Wendig works with the apocalyptic setting perfectly. Painting a picture of undead America and all the insane groups of survivors they come across. The character of Coburn is a great protagonist. He starts off as an unlikable asshole, but by the end you end up loving him. . As with most of the characters. Especially Kayla and her father Gil .There is some great exploration of Coburn's back story which I didn't expect either. Double Dead also has one of the best endings I've read recently. I literally can't think of a better way to conclude that story.

Overall Double Dead is a great genre-bender with an epic feel, very likable characters, a great anti-hero, terrific story, and a perfect ending.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Blood Oath by Christopher Farnsworth Review

I mentioned how I love zombies. Well, there is another sub-genre which peaks the deep dark mountain of madness which is my interest. That is the sub-genre of the vampire. Nosferatu. Dracul. Other words that make me seem smarter than I actually am. I love vampire fiction. The myth and monster is fascinating. A human cursed to wander the earth forced to drink the blood of the living to survive. What's not to love? I also disagree with the statement the vampire fiction has been ruined by twilight. Listen: there is a lot worse vampire fiction out there then twilight. Twilight is just the most popular. Sad, but true. Does that mean that twilight is good? No, of course not. But I'm not talking about twilight. I am talking about one of my favorite vampire novels, Christopher Farnsworth's Blood Oath.

One of the two main characters in Blood Oath is a young man named Zach Barrows, an up-and-comer trying to become the youngest white house chief of staff. Zach unfortunately makes a huge mistake when working for the fictional president of the United States. He sleeps with his daughter in the Lincoln bedroom.This actually gets creepier when the future books make reference to the theory that the bedroom is still haunted by Lincoln's ghost. After that Zach is "promoted" to becoming the handler for the United States' biggest secret. Nathaniel Cade, the president's vampire. Okay, here's the gist. Cade is a one hundred and forty year old vampire who has worked under every US president since Andrew Johnson. One who made a blood oath so now he literally has to follow every order given by the president and anyone under his command. Cade is an extremely valuable resource, as you can guess, and has basically been the only line of defense against "the other side". What's the other side? Basically every monster from the deep dark recesses of your nightmares who try every day to cross into our world and turn the entire human race into their own personal hunting ground and all you can eat buffet.  Together Zach and Cade will try to stop a supernatural terrorist plot, an immortal nazi, and an evil shadow company inside the US government.

The characters in Blood Oath are its strongest trait. It's hard to get as excited as I do when one of the sequels come out. Zach is great as the straight man, without feeling useless. This is pretty impressive when you work with a guy who can grab you from shoulder to shoulder and rip you down the middle like you're a piece of paper. Zach actually feels valuable. He goes from a whining little brat to likable hero. I know that you're wondering about Cade. As I said Cade gave a blood oath to president Andrew Johnson. Since then he has protected this country against what hides in the dark. Cade refuses to drink human blood, and it's slowly killing him. Don't get me wrong. Cade is a monster, but he will never stop trying to be human. Cade's character is all about his human side and his vampire side constantly fighting for control. He wears a cross around his neck. This is why we love Cade. Because he feels human. It also has a great villain in Johann Conrad, the original doctor Frankenstein. Yes, Dracula vs Frankenstein. Intrigued yet?

The world of Blood Oath is better than I could imagine. Every chapter begins with an excerpt from classified files which add to the world. Some or movie and book references and others real conspiracy theories. Along with some terrific flashback sequences with Cade, these help the world feel real, which make it the more frightening.

The novel has a believable world, terrific characters, and a great story which ends in an exciting climax in the White House. Each of the sequels are just as good, and I recommend reading all of them, and then read the others which come after. Christopher Farnsworth has become one of my favorite authors because of this series, and I hope he becomes one yours to.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Feed by Mira Grant Review

I love zombies. With a capitol I and still beating heart. Basically any post-apocalyptic fiction strikes my fancy. Any stories about an event that changes the world and the people in it. Causing people to fight to survive and showing their true colors in the process. The most common type of postapocalyptica these days is zombie fiction. And as I said: I heart zombies. Come on, who hasn't had multiple conversations about what they would do if the dead started rising when they were supposed to be doing anything remotely productive. My love for the sub-genre aside, zombie fiction does not have a lot of range. Almost every zombie movie or book focuses on a group of ragtag survivors in a world where ninety percent of the human race have been turned into the walking dead as they fight for survival. There's nothing wrong with that. It's a great formula that works when you have the right talent behind it. Example: Roberts Kirkman and Danny Boyle, who can do just about anything. Occasionally you have something that comes and reinvents the genre.

Imagine a world where a zombie apocalypse happened. Where a virus created by two cures caused the dead to come back and eat the living, but society never fell. Where it is the year 2040 and zombies have become a part of everyday life. This is the world of Feed by Mira Grant:  has written the most original piece of zombie fiction that I know. It is a world of paranoia, blood tests, and bleach. So, so much bleach. Oh, and zombies. Have I mentioned zombies?

The world is brilliantly fleshed out. That aside the best part of Feed, along with any great story, is the characters. The two main characters are Georgia and Shaun Mason. Two journalists(bloggers in fact) that are given the chance to cover an up-and-coming presidential candidate. On the campaign trail they discover a conspiracy which truth-obsessed Georgia and her team must blow open. The story is told from the point of view of Georgia, and the supporting characters including supportive brother Shaun, brilliant tech-junky Buffy, charming and tragic Rick, and the hopefully next president of the United States Peter Ryman are all extremely developed and three dimensional.. Those are just a few of the great characters. You will fall in love these people, and the book will break your heart more than once in the process. I have heard people complain that there aren't enough parts in the book where the zombies are featured, but I disagree. There aren't as many zombies as say The Walking Dead, but it's not about that. It's about the people and world that the zombies have created.

As I said, Feed is one of the best and most original zombie fiction ever written. Great characters in an ingeniously written world. I have just finished the trilogy and would recommend anyone else to do so also. Especially if you are a zombie fan, but you don't have to be to enjoy this great book.

John Rabe Review

World War 2 racked up one of the biggest death tolls in human history. Probably the biggest. Hundreds of atrocities and human rights abuses happening all over the world. Millions dead in less than ten years. We all know the biggest one. The Holocaust. The mass execution of Jews throughout Europe taking over six million lives. There were dozens, probably hundreds like this on smaller scales. One of these was a terrible event still known today as the rape of Nanking. Where Japanese troops invaded Nanking, China. Then proceeded to murder, rape, and pillage the city.  Every soldier was executed, women and children raped in the streets. A death toll higher than three hundred thousand. This is an atrocity that is not very well known to Americans, because the American government didn't think that Americans would care about the plight of the Chinese.

Whenever horrible things like this happens there are sometimes stories of heroism. Proving that maybe humanity isn't entirely evil. About people who decided to do what was right, against what was safe or easy.  One of these men was John Rabe. The movie named after him is what I am going to review. I had to describe the backstory though.
John Rabe was one of the best humanitarians of the war. There was one thing about him. He was a member of the National Socialists party. He was a Nazi. He ran a branch of a German business which was stationed in Nanking when the Japanese invaded. He had the chance to live, but chose to stay. He was nominated as the chairman of a committee by other people who lived in Nanking. Using his Nazi influence he created a safety zone in the middle of Nanking, which housed and protected over two hundred thousand Chinese citizens from the Japanese.

There's not much I can say about the film other than it is terrific. It has great acting by Ulrich Tukur who plays Rabe, and a great supporting role by Steve Buscemi as American doctor Robert Wilson who was part of the committee Rabe was a part of. The acting is terrific all around as well. I really like that they gave the Japanese a human face without underplaying the atrocity. The only thing I could maybe take away is that there is some narration that occasionally takes you out of the film, but the affect is so miniscule it's almost nonexistent. The film was a joint German-Chinese-French production, so there is subtitles. Although there are a lot of English language scenes. I have never understood why anyone would miss out on a great movie because of that, but I know people who do.

John Rabe is a great film about a terribly unknown hero and event that more people should be informed about.  It is great, and if I could rate it I would give it 5 stars. If you are interested in learning more about what happened at Nanking Check out the great documentary Nanking or the film City of Life and Death.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Prometheus Review

I know that this movie came out a couple weeks ago, but no one is reading this yet anyway.  Prometheus is an interesting film. Both for good reasons and bad.  Let me just say this: I enjoyed it. There were still a lot about it that bugged me, and continues to do so. Yet you could say that the movie achieved in making me think about it weeks after I saw it, so there's that. Also, I am not touching the "Is it an Alien prequel or not? Mainly because everyone else and their overbearing mother have talked about it, never coming to any real result. Partly, because it ultimately doesn't matter or affect the film.

Alright, good things. The movie looks terrific. Lots of beautiful blue tinted sci-fi imagery that will make any science fiction nerd dream of stellar space exploration. Mr. Ridley Scott delivers on this front. Even though I'm not sure who to credit. Ridley Scott, or his cinematographer. I say this because some of the best shots of the film are almost completely CGI. That said, there are some great uses of practical effects too. There are a few very good performances. In fact, it seemed the better the performance the better the character. Take the example of David the android(which is not a spoiler. It's obvious from the first shot of the film It is revealed minutes later, and not as a twist.) David is played brilliantly by Michael Fassbender and is arguably the best character in the movie. He is constantly taunted by other characters about his inhumanity. Ironically comes off as the emotional person in the film. In a curious what makes the flesh-bags tick kind of way. Noomi Rapace, the original girl with the dragon tattoo, gives the second best performance as the main character Elizabeth Shaw. Edris Elba and Charlize Theron are also very good. Half the cast is very good, including the actors I've just mentioned. The other half of the cast is laughingly bad.  This does not help when the story relies on the stupidity of the characters for the plot to keep moving.

Before I get ahead of myself let me explain the story. If you are reading this you already know the gist.  Group of scientists discover the possible origin of humanity, big cough cough evil cough cough corporation funds trillion dollar(which by the time this movie takes place is probably  the equivalent of five bucks) expedition to find said origin of the entire human race. That by itself is a great idea. An original, despite the alien attachments, idea that feels like a classic science fiction novel.  The problem is the story asks a lot of questions, fails to answer them, and then turns into a simple horror movie.  Granted, the horror elements work very well. There are some very thrilling sequences including a horrifying one which my friends who saw the movie with me dubbed "The abortion scene".  The script was penned by lost veteran Damon Lindelof. I can see this through the great setup, and again through the less than great execution. Not to say Lost was bad. It was terrific. The last season compared to the rest of the show is not.

 Lets go back to what I said about stupidity. The crew of the Prometheus is supposed to be made up of the some of the best scientists the human race has to offer. Yet they continually make the worst decisions possible. Example: two trained scientists find an obviously hostile alien life form. Hostile alien life form unfolds and hisses at said scientists. What do supposedly highly trained scientists do? They try to pet it like a sad dog that's lost its owner. As you can guess, things don't go so well. This trend continues throughout the film.

Over all, I enjoyed the experience. Which is all you can really ask of anything.  Prometheus just was not the sci-fi masterpiece it was built up to be. That said, I would still recommend it.  If you can, with a group.  The horror scenes are the best part, especially accompanied with the terrified reactions of friends.


Um, hi! Oh, um...hello. Sorry, I'm not so good at these. I get a little nervous. I'm quite shy, actually.  My name is Gustavo Alphonso Antonio Banderas Jesus Cardinal III. No, no wait that's not it. My name is Hunter.  Much less awesome, but much more true. I love movies, books, video games, comics, women with red hair, Mexican food, new car smell, vigilantism, skydiving, dragon-riding, rock-climbing, and the occasional vampire slaying.  Actually only nine of those are true. Which ones? That is for you to decide. Basically I'm a nerd who loves a good story in basically any medium. I also love to talk about these stories with other people. That is what I hope to achieve with this blog, and I hope it turns out well. So hi, nice to meet you. I hope we can do this again.