September 29th, 2008

Scary Books

Movie Review: Tropic Thunder (2008)

Ben Stiller's latest comedy is funny and chock full of bad taste. It's what you expect from a Ben Stiller film. The plot doesn't actually matter because there is much to enjoy: The fake ad and fake trailers (far superior to the fake trailers with 'Grindhouse'. Simple Jack', enough said. Kirk Lazarus, now who could he be based on? The hooker/panda mix-up. Nick Nolte. The pyromaniac SFX guy. The evil kids. The "I don't drop character until I've done the DVD commentary" line. Steve Coogan's character getting blown up and the resulting David Beckham line.

There is however stuff that isn't enjoyable: Jack Black's character running around in his underpants while going cold turkey from heroin. Any scene with Tom Cruise.

Book Review: Windfall

Windfall: Weather Warden Book 4 by Rachel Caine

The saga continues and the plot becomes a bit repetitive.

After quitting the Wardens after the events of book 3 'Chill Factor', Joanne is working as a weather girl and being 'poor' (somehow her version of 'poor' allows her to drive a very fancy car and splurge on designer shoes and make-up). Then her never before mentioned sister Sarah shows up to live with her. Then the trying so hard to be ominous djinn show up to threaten Joanne and all Joanne wants or cares about is David.

A superstorm is brewing to menace Florida, the most powerful djinn of all has a deathwish, the djinn turn on the Wardens, the Wardens are doing their usual shtick of threatening to strip Joanne's powers, Sarah has a wannabe hard man boyfriend, Lewis and Kevin show up to nearly get killed, Joanne is menaced by various baddies but all she wants to do is rub David's bottle.

This book was a good enjoyable read but Joanne's selfish David obsession and the infernal magical kid stuff is too much. Enough with this series' clichés of: fast cars, Joanne's clothes and shoe obsession, the Wardens doing their usual power stripping threat, djinn being condescending, baddies threatening Joanne instead of outright killing her and will David finally exist to do something other than sexually service Joanne?
Scary Books

Tin Man review (Part 1)

Tin Man (2007)

The mini-series re-imagining of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz'.

Part 1

DG is an ordinary girl. DG as played by Zooey Deschannel either can't act or won't act. Also her face may have been frozen by botox. Anyway one day DG's home is attacked by scary men and her parents push her into a 'travel storm' aka a tornado and DG wakes up in the Outer Zone aka the O.Z. The evil Sorceress Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson, the best thing in this) not only dresses like a 'She-Ra' doll but she's out to get DG.

Meanwhile DG blunders around and is menaced by homicidal lawn gnomes and then joins up with the idiot Glitch (Alan Cumming), the cold hearted Cain (Neal McDonough, the crazy eyed veteran of 'Traveler', 'Star Trek: First Contact' and 'Walking Tall') and the psychic Raw. So DG and her steampunk versions of the scarecrow, tin man and cowardly lion walk along the battered old brick road trying to evade Azkadellia's personal Gestapo, the longcoats. The motley crew hope to reach Central City and get help from the Mystic Man.

But complications ensue, Azkadellia's evilest henchman Zero (Callum Keith Rennie) is after them and the Mystic Man is out of it on drugs. DG also comes to some startling revelations: the people she thought were her parents are really robot nurture units and Azkadellia is her sister. Meanwhile Azkadellia keeps mummy imprisoned in a nifty desktop prison and has flying monkeys that come out of tattoos on her cleavage.

This was good apart from Zooey Deschannel's non-acting. The retelling of the Oz story is very interesting and has unique twists. Zero and Azkadellia are great villains and there are hints of an intriguing back-story via Azkadellia's conversations with her imprisoned mother. Questions are raised: why was DG taken out of the O.Z 15 years ago? Why did Azkadellia turn the O.Z into a wasteland? And how did Glitch go from the Queen's advisor to an idiot with a zipper in his head? Also DG seems a bit dim. After releasing Cain from his years' long imprisonment in a tin box she asks: "Are you ok?"

Part 2

The gang are separated, some are Azkadellia's prisoners and some are on the loose. After various wacky hijinks they reunite and DG's also reunites with Toto, they set off in search of an emerald and something called the Grey Gale. Raw takes a root through Glitch's mind and the tragedy that was his downfall are shown, however dark rumblings of something called the Sunseeder begin.

However more is to come as DG has to confront a terrible memory. DG learns that Azkadellia's tyranny is all her fault. Years ago she abandoned her elder sister to be possessed by a wicked witch. DG and Azkadellia's mother knew what had become of her elder child but for some inexplicable reason did nothing to help. DG was quite obviously the favourite and of her elder child, all she said was: "The darkness is too deeply rooted in her." Seriously what was that? It explains Azkadellia's earlier line to her mother: "You made me what I am." Why didn't anyone do anything over the last 15 years to help Azkadellia? If they had, Azkadellia's violent coup and the devastation of the O.Z could have been prevented.

This part was also good. But there are annoying contrivances: like Cain being on the surface of the ice when at the end of part 1 he was seen plunging into the icy lake annoy, the gang run across the same Pape fields they did in part 1 and how no-one tried to save Azkadellia.