Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Winter 2006 Book/Movie Review

Some thoughts about the books/movies that I've consumed lately:

Eragon - Christopher Paolini

My brother got me into this series. The author was 15 when he began writing Eragon, the first novel. It's a Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy trilogy, centered around a young farm boy who becomes a Dragon Rider. I found it more palatable than LOTR. Simpler. A good read.

Eldest - Christopher Paolini

Of course, I had to keep plugging right along. Eldest is the second book, and Paolini gets to (ahem) spread his wings with this one (it's nearly twice as long as the first). I liked it better -- The storytelling seems more effortless, and as the conflicts broaden in scope one can't help but get excited to see how the fates of the characters will intertwine. I like the way Paolini treats the development of Eragon. He has natural gifts, but they don't blossom into an instant mega-warrior who owns everyone. He's a Luke Skywalker-type.

Paolini also decides to throw in a bunch of not-so-subtle anti-religious subtexts into the books... If you are bothered by arguments favoring reason over belief, you might be offended. Overall, the Eragon books talk about a fair number of ethical issues, which give them greater value.

Eragon (the film)

Piece of shit. Don't bother seeing it, ESPECIALLY if you haven't yet read the book are thinking about doing so. It's hopelessly compressed, disemboweled and stitched back together, with crappy dialogue, bad cinematography, and a total lack of flow as a story.

Babel (film)

This movie came out without much fanfare, but it deserves to be seen. It unfolds uniquely, following three almost completely separate stories about people who don't listen to one another and the unfortunate consequences thereof. The film's title is a metaphor for this misunderstanding. The characters are at the center, and they are good ones -- real and complex. Brad Pitt is the big name actor, but all the roles are perfectly acted. I smell Oscars.

Charlotte's Web (film)

If you have little cousins, go see it with them. You'll both enjoy the irresistible cuteness of the little pig Wilbur. As an adult, don't bother, unless maybe you have a GF who loves irresistibly cute piglets. The reviews that I've read all give big props to Dakota Fanning, who plays the little girl Fern. She annoyed me -- the actress is so used to playing drama and horror roles, I don't think she knows how to strip away her Hollywood blockbuster demeanor and act like a simple, little farm girl. Too affected.

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