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Last update: 20 Mar 2007 -- 12:05am
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20 Mar 2007

The Host (IMDB 7.3|Rot 93%)
An Action/Adventure, Drama, Horror, Mutants, Sci-Fi/Horror/Fantasy movie with a 93% at Rotten Tomatoes! Wow! That movie must be awesome!

Well, not so much. I don't know how it got a 93%. Maybe amongst Korean films it's a 93.

This is a subtitled Korean monster movie. An evil American researcher makes an protesting Korean underling pour an enormous amount of formaldehyde into the Han river. The resulting mutated amphibian wreaks impressive havok along the waterfront. In the melee, a father loses his daughter to the beast, which carries her away to its nest. The movie chronicles his (and his siblings' and father's) attempt to find her and her attempts to escape.

It's fun, sometimes amusing, scary, and there are plenty of goverment people being evil. It's what the TV series Surface wanted to be but wasn't. Plus it's neat to see the Korean cultural slants. (Lots of bribing, knowing how to make molotov cocktails being a result of student protest back in the day, college educated people unable to find jobs whereas the street vendor can, etc.)

Worth a rent or a matinée.

10 Mar 2007

Declare, Tim Powers

I picked this up on a whim for plane reading. I liked a couple other Tim Powers books: The Anubis Gates and The Drawing of the Dark come to mind. (Drawing... was quite fun, recommended.) It's a spy thriller mixed with a otherworldly adventure.

The story opens with a supernaturally routed expedition to Mount Ararat. Readers have no idea what is causing it or why. The book is a set of flashbacks and forwards revealing more of what happened and eventually concludes with a trip back to finish the job... whatever that job might be. (That's sufficiently vague, I think.)

It turns out that the novel is based on historical events (though I didn't know this as I read it, not being into spy stuff much). Some main characters are actual people, Kim Philby in particular. The novel is an attempt to explain some of the loose ends in Philby's apparently long and duplicitous career in several countries' secret agencies. Powers decided to do this by using the supernatural.

The core conceit is clever and self-consistent. I would love to read another story which revolved around the Lovecraftian powers exposed.

A moderate thumbs up. It seemed a bit long for the story.

300 (IMDB 8.4|Rot 61%)
This is a live-action version of the Frank Miller graphic novel 300, telling the story of the Battle of Thermopylae. The battle was fought in 480BC to hold the Persians back from Greece against overwhelming odds. In this telling, 300 Spartans kill countless Persians in the attempt. (Historically, the story isn't quite the same (as far as I can tell) but it's quite close.) Thermopylae is a choke point where the a horde doesn't have an advantage as it has to thin down to pass. The narrow road is guarded by 300 Spartans trained from birth to be warriors. Carnage ensues.

Primarily, 300 is a gladiator movie. Though based on history, the movie allows the supernatural (consulting an oracle) and the near-fantastic (ogres, beasts) to be expressed. They aren't fantasy, but exaggerated reality perhaps. This keeps the battles from becoming overly tedious or mundane.

It's very stylish, paced well, and is a pretty good ride. The last bit during the denouement fell flat for me for some reason. The dialogue just didn't ring true... or was too purple or something.

I liked it, overall. Worth seeing it on the big screen; it's very contrasty so seeing at home won't be the same experience.

8 Mar 2007

In the fantastic-concept-with-flawed-execution department: Dylan Hears a Who pays homage to both Dr. Seuss and Bob Dylan. I think the songs are damaged by over-doing the Dylan-esque whine/sneer/whatever-the-hell-you-call-the-way-he-sang-early-in-his-career.

Green Eggs and Ham is one of the better ones, at least for the first verse or so.

Update: Miss Gertrude McFuzz is good too.

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