Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I went to see The Lion, The Witch and the wardrobe recently. I enjoyed it quite a lot. The imagery all fit. Aslan was suitably impressive looking. If like me you have fond memories of reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a child then you will enjoy this movie. It is little long and some of the scenes drag on a bit but other than that it is very good. It mainly made me remember all the make believe games I use to play when I was a kid. Peter's story in the movie was pretty much my ultimate fantasy. Much talk has been made of the Christian nature of the work. I would explain at length about the misconceptions of much of this talk but forutnately someone else has already written a much better essay than I could. Here it is. As another aside, People Suck. In particular people who go to movies that I am watching and eat chips in noisiest way possible. Every time I go to the movies in the evening I am viscerally reminded why I enjoy going to Matinee showings so much more. Particularly nearly empty Matinee showings.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
I have been re-reading the first few Drenai books by David Gemmel starting with Legend. I really like Legend. Druss is one of my favourite fantasy heroes. I tend not to like what I think of as fancy pants heroes. Characters who are so kick ass that they can't be touched. Gemmel has a knack of creating fantastic heroes who are not infallible or generally very nice. Like in real life people in Gemmel's universe who act heroically in defiance of good sense, die. Legend is the story of Druss' Swansong. An old warrior last battle. Druss is depicted as a living totem for the Drenai forces in the siege. Druss is a hero but this perception exists mainly in the preoccupations of people who are not in fact Druss. Gemmel crafts a story that resembles the kernel of truth at the heart of good myth and is at the same time a compelling war story. A key element in Gemmel's writing is that he never writes a silly action scene. Fight scenes in his books always have extreme consequences. There is none of the false wrestling style epic combats that too often mar our popular entertainment. Combat on the whole is short and brutal. There is a commonality to Legend and Die Hard which points to one reason why I like them both. This is the feeling of the action scenes. Combat scenes in both are short and decisive. They feel realistic even though by the end the hero has overcome ridiculous odds to win. Contrast to something like Buffy which by the end had some of the worlds stupidest action scenes. Where no one ever seemed like they were scared of dying or concerned about being hurt. When that happens the action loses all tension and becomes pointless filler. The rest of the Drenai tales, at leas the ones I have, All revolve around the same themes and sort of characters and Legend and while fun have much less impact. Gemmel fleshes out the rise and fall of the Drenai empire and we get to see the beginnings of many Drenai myths from a variety of perspective. This is Gemmel's main weakness to my mind his stories are thematically all very similar can sometimes differ only in the minor details. But in Conclusion, Legend is Good
Sunday, December 11, 2005
I have a subscription with a postal dvd rental place like netflix but here in NZ. My rental queue has become long enought that I am now being surprised by the films that get sent to me. That latest DVD i got was Die Hard. Now everyone has probably seen this film, It is one of those films that get's replayed endlessly on TV. I had forgotten how good and gritty it is. It builds up a great sense of realism throughout the first 3/4 of the film so that by the end when the really ludicrous stunts happen it all works fine. Die Hard works so well mainly because of the two leads , Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber the villain and Bruce Willis as John Mclane the hero. An interesting point raised by the commentary was that the villain is the protagonist of the piece the action all revolves around his evil plans. Where the hero is the antagonist he reacts to the villain and tries to stop him. This is a situation that holds true in many modern action movies where the heroes are Policemen and the like. People whose jobs are essentially reactive. John McTiernan the director has a good point when he claims that failing to understand this key point is why many action movies jump from set piece to set piece and fail to make much sense. This is particularly notable in many martial arts movies. Anyway with believable main characters and brutal action Die Hard remains one of my favourite. It still manages to build tension and be exciting even watching now when I have seen it many many times.