Sunday, November 30, 2014

SUNDAY SEVEN: BEST FOOTBALL FILMS

Yes it is football season. I have been to my last home game for my Bobcats and on occasion I watch some pro football, but I am not a hard core fanatic about any one particular team. I do like football movies though. Here are my Top Seven.


“Quarterback Princess” (1983)
Helen Hunt plays Tami Maida who wants to be the quarterback of the high school football team. Of course because she is a lady everyone is against her. Of course Tami goes out to prove that not only can she play football but she can win the state championship. Oh and be the Homecoming Queen. Based on a true story I loved this film as a kid and wanted to play football for a bit…possibly while wearing the pretty homecoming dress.


"The Last Boy Scout" (1991)
The movie starts off with the star player taking PCP, taking a gun out and shooting the opposing players as he makes his way for a touchdown before killing himself. Done deal right? Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) penned this one that Tony Scott directed. It is part action, part mystery and definitely all about the black comedy aspects brought to you famously by Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans. Oh and it has Halle Berry in it.

"Heaven Can Wait" (1978)
Warren Beatty plays Joe Pendleton, a quarterback who loses his life in a car accident. He is returned to Earth and into the body of an aging millionaire who has just been drowned by his wife and her new lover (Charles Grodin). Leo buys the Los Angeles Rams to lead them to the Super Bowl as their quarterback. So he finds his old trainer and get into shape, falls in love, and tries to make it to the Super Bowl. It’s a cute film and also stars Julie Christie.

"Rudy" (1993)
I like feel good sports movies. They make me happy and Rudy is definitely one of those movies. Starring Sean Astin as Rudy the film has that feel good, absolute determination, awesomeness to it. You root for Rudy, who no one can believe would ever be a collegiate athlete, to finally become part of the Fightin’ Irish. He never gives up and plus Sean Astin is just plain cool (Goonies and Lord of the Rings)

"The Replacements” (2000)
Keanu Reeves (Shane Falco) never made it as the star quarterback, but he gets a second chance when salary disputes create a player strike. Jimmy (Gene Hackman) gets hired to coach and decides to replace the players who have walked out with Falco and a rag tag ensemble to finish out the rest of the season. It’s a great quirky, sweet movie about second chances. Totally dig it.

"Any Given Sunday" (1999)
Oliver Stone likes to do gritty and this is his take on the football industry. Starring Pacino, Dennis Quaid, Cameron Diaz and Jaime Foxx it is a film of excess. Full of plots, subplots, eyeballs on the turf, and plenty of hard hitting drama, you cannot help but watch it.

"Lucas" (1986)
Corey Haim plays Lucas, a nerdy 14 year old high school student. He falls for the new girl in town, Maggie, whom he meets on one of his insect adventures and the two hang out during the rest of the summer. When school begins Lucas finds himself, once again, bullied by the jocks of the school. He does have one friend though Cappie (Charlie Sheen), who used to be a bully as well before he became his friend and protector. Things get messy when Maggie falls for Cappie instead of Lucas. In a last ditch effort to make Maggie fall for him instead of Cappie, Lucas joins the football team. It doesn’t go as planned. And yet slow clap.

Honorable Mentions:
Brian’s Song, Friday Night Lights, and We Are Marshall

Friday, November 28, 2014

5 FANDOM FRIDAY: BLACK FRIDAY

This week’s Fandom Friday is all about Black Friday. To be more specific: Black Friday Purchases I Would Sacrifice A Night Of Sleep For. As a former retail manager it is a day I loathe and it gets worse every year (open on Thanksgiving when people should be with their families…meh). Maybe it is because I would rather sleep in on a blessed day off and then spend the day reading, catching up on tv, playing DA: Inquisition, or even board games like we are going to do with A &T rather deal with people who treat retail employees like crap. And yet I love my Fandom Friday. Like a good little Smirking there is a twist for my top five. We’re going to discuss fictional presents I might be willing to wake up and venture outside in this winter wonderland we are having (almost 8 inches) to buy. Note: We are just going to assume that the TARDIS, A Lightsaber, Point of View Gun from Hitchhiker’s, and Baby Groot are just automatic gimmies. How about you? Did I miss something important?


The Holodeck // Star Trek
This is virtual reality at its best. It can be my own personal gym where I want to run from virtual zombies to reenacting my own version of American Gladiators or Double Dare (you know I would). Or you know have the Green Arrow be my personal trainer. But the Holodeck can also be my own vacation home. Feel like spending the evening at a café in Paris. Done. Maybe some hiking in Rivendell for the weekend. Done. How about act like a kid and ride every ride at a Six Flags Amusement park without waiting in line? Or what about lunch at Hogsmeade? Hell I would be content with hiking in Oregon without anyone else around. Seriously, the possibilities are endless. I could spend my free time inserting myself into a Jane Austen novel where I can picnic with the D’Arcys, where Katniss, Kate Bishop and I work on our bow skills, and I solve crimes with John and Sherlock. I could go on adventures with Mal and company, attend Jurassic Park without being eaten, and have a dance off with Starlord. Seriously, why is this not real yet? Things I would do immediately once I was done with work: Eat dinner at Milliways (The Restaurant at the End of the Universe), Go blow off some steam with E and Garrus on the Citadel at the Armax Combat Arena, and maybe finish the evening off with some R&R lounging in a hammock with E on some secluded and warm island getaway. Sigh. I would soooo bundle up and wait in line to grab this one. For days people. Days.


The Replicator // Star Trek
Yep Star Trek has all of the awesome gadgets including a transporter, tricorders, and a space elevator. Of course for those of you who know and love Star Trek it was primarily shown used as a way to provide food and drink. Jean Luc wants his tea…voila. I want a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster…there you go. Or maybe I have a huge hankering for sirloin…it made it so. It means when I get home from work and have no real desire to cook a meal, the replicator does it for me. And the great thing is when E and I are done eating we put our dirty dishes back in the replicator and it recycles everything. Whoo hoo. A Replicator is also great for shopping. Want that dress in your size? Maybe need to buy a gift for your special someone? Or get a new piece of art for the home? All this can be done. And then when you outgrow those things, back in for recycling. I don’t think I can wait for the technology to show up in my lifetime. Get on this people.


Babelfish // Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This small yellow fish that lives in your ear translates any language you hear into something that you understand. This would be a lovely device to have when traveling overseas. I only wish that it would also translate my own speech into another language. I suppose everyone will have to have one. Also, would it allow me to finally understand the family cat and dog? If so, count me in for the non-sleepy times on Black Friday.


Med Bay // Elysium
In Elysium if you are wealthy enough you get to have a Med Bay which essentially looks like half MRI, half tanning bed. It kind of makes you immortal as whatever ails you, it can fix. Sunburn? Fixed. Faulty knees? Cartilage fixed. I wouldn’t have to worry about the flu or cancer. And I get to lay down for a bit while I get all fixed up. Yes, please.

Dire Wolf Puppy (Game of Thrones)
I admit I would rather find this little pup underneath my tree with a red bow rather than spend hours in line waiting for her. Direwolves are highly intelligent, are extremely loyal to their masters and oh so cuddly. Plus it’s like having a furry pony and a canine companion at the same time.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

WEDNESDAY WHAT IF: FICTIONAL HOLIDAY FAMILY

Inspired by last week’s Fandom Friday post I present this week’s Wednesday What If. Tis the season for turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, pecan pie and of course spending time with your family. It’s a day of gorging yourself with delicious food, watching the game, falling into a food coma and then stupidly getting up 5 hours later in pitch black to go wait in line for 4 hours to get a cheap deal on electronics. Or in my case having dinner with good friends, falling into a food coma, playing some video games and then waking up when I feel like it on Friday because I am more happy to have the extra day off then to go deal with traffic…and people. Now if your family is anything like mine Thanksgiving can sometimes be mundane and then other times a bit crazy. Now I am lucky I have both my blood family and the family I wasn’t born with (also known as the one you make which is just as important, sometimes more so). But what if we could choose our family from our little geeky imaginations? But who is this fabulous fictional family? Have fun. Please share and I will post your link to your answer.

Grandmother: Granny Weatherwax (Discworld Novels)
She’s a witch, is prone to occasionally put up signs that read ‘not dead, just resting’. On top of that she reminds me of my Granny June (Miss you Granny). She takes no prisoners, would tell me bad and dirty jokes, would let me just be me no matter what and tell some of the best stories ever.

Grandfather: Gandalf the Grey (Lord the Rings)
I shouldn’t have to explain this too much. He’s Gandalf. He smokes, drinks, tells jokes and has the best fireworks ever. And oh yeah one of the coolest wizards ever. Plus summers with Grandpa would be amazing in Middle Earth.

Father: Mr. Pendergrass (Easy A)
If you have seen this movie (which you should) you can understand why Stanley Tucci’s father figure would be awesome except for the part where we would have to watch the Bucket List. He would embrace if not encourage my quirkiness and is just cool. Plus he loves my fictional mother a great deal. This is important.

Mother: Mrs. Pendergrass (Easy A)
Also kind of a logical choice if you’ve seen the movie. You can’t have Stanley Tucci without Patricia Clarkson. Awesome parents. I imagine that I would also be as adorable as Olive is. And yet geekier. Plus she would share with you, possibly things about her misspent youth, but hey we’d have mother/daughter share time.

Big Brother: Macgyver
Cause after we cut his mullet off because it was not an awesome hair choice, Mac would be great. If the oven broke down before the turkey was done, all we would need is a paperclip, some shampoo, a match and some dryer flint and voila. Turkey dinner.

Big Sister: Lorelai Gilmore (Gilmore Girls)
I wasn’t a hard core Gilmore Girls fan, but I watched enough that she would make an awesome big sister. A bit crazy, but balanced because of her cool factor. Slumber parties, spa days, gossip sessions and anything involving boys would be awesome. Plus amazing dialogue because yes I am thinking of this Turkey Extravaganza as a film.

Little Brother: Tom Imura (Rot N Ruin)
Because when the zombie apocalypse happens, it will be nice to have him as a little brother and who will ultimately save me or cut off my head really quickly if things go bad. Not sure why zombies might show up at Thanksgiving dinner, but you never know. It’s always important to be prepared.

Little Sister: Tali'Zorah nar Rayya (Mass Effect series)
Different species, sure we are. She’s adopted and still family. I would spend my time getting her drunk on Holiday sangria, reminiscing about Garrus, and teaching her all of my nerdy ways. Such fun.

Uncle: Starlord (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Uncle Peter would be awesome. Cause he would take me on adventures. And also possibly get me killed while on said adventures. Fun times. Plus on occasion he would send me baby Groot to take care of him. We would then have dance parties because of all of the awesome mixes we would be listening to.

Aunt: Inara Sera (Firefly)
Not only would having the birds and bees conversation go over so much better, but Inara would have the best stories. Plus she’d make me feel all girly girl. Awesome Aunt. Also does this mean Mal and the rest of the crew would visit too because, you know, extended family. Sweet.

The Uncle who isn’t Really An Uncle: Hardison (Leverage)
One: Cause then I would inadvertently meet the rest of the crew. Two: Which means I get to hang with Parker. Yeah. Three: Having the coolest geeky hacker ever would mean great things. Admit it. I would love ‘Uncle’ Hardison to pieces.

The Friend Who Would Rather Spend Time with Your Family Rather than Their Family: Claudia (Warehouse 13)
Somehow I think Claudia would get along with the rest of my family. We would be lifelong geekmates. I just see her coming after saying Hey Mr and Mrs M and then sitting down to play Dragon Age multiplayer with Uncle Peter and Uncle Hardison and I.


Date: The 10th Doctor (Doctor Who)
Allons-y. We would saunter in after a delightful trip from whenever and wherever. I would be an awesome companion by the way. Plus he would be all David Tennant shaped and that doesn’t suck. Another plus: there is always the snogging under the mistletoe later. Also, reasons.

Family Pet: Lucky aka Pizza Dog (Hawkeye)
We all know that on occasion you have to feed the family pet with the real bad stuffing that Uncle Peter brought because let’s face it he’s not really that great of a cook. However the family pet is happy to be fed with the People Food he isn’t supposed to eat. Not only is Lucky the canine companion to both Hawkeyes and currently living with Kate, but he totally saved Clint’s life. I think he deserves some turkey bits. Plus look at that face.

What consists of your fictional Holiday family? Let me know and I will post your link.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TUESDAY TRAILERS: MINIONS

The minions are the best part of the Despicable Me movies, you know they are. Kind of excited to see this, cannot help it. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary:Meet Stuart, Kevin and Bob as they embark on a journey for their new master in the Official Trailer for Minions…Opens July 10, 2015.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Horns: Movie Review

Horns (2013)
Directed By: Alexandre Aja
Written By: Keith Bunin, Joe Hill
Genre:HORROR
Rated: R
Time: 120 min
Starring: Daniel Radcliffe, Juno Temple, Max Minghella
Plot: In the aftermath of his girlfriend's mysterious death, a young man awakens to find strange horns sprouting from his temples.

Comments: When I first saw the trailer for Horns I was excited. I had read the book by Joe Hill a while ago and really enjoyed it. While Daniel Radcliffe wasn’t my first choice for Ig, the trailer changed my mind. But of course living in Bozeman means we don’t get a lot of the non-blockbuster films around here. Thankfully it was available via X-Box video. Now before I start with the review I have to say that the book is almost always better than the movie. And yet sometimes, just sometimes, you appreciate them both separately (Practical Magic) for what they are. They are different, but you appreciate them all the same. Horns was like that.

Ignatius Perrish has lost everything. His beloved girlfriend left him and then shortly after he left her standing in the rain she was found raped and murdered. Of course everyone in town thinks that the Ig did it. One year after Merrin was taken from him Ig wakes up with one hell of a hangover…and horns. Many see the horns but aren’t freaked out about them, they are however extremely forthcoming with confessions. Sure this is fun, but then Ig realizes he can use these new powers to find out who really killed Merrin.

I love that Radcliffe is not just Harry anymore. His American accent is the best I have heard thus far from him and he really grew on me as Ig. He had the grief, the suffering, and then the vengeance and the humor. Plus he totally rocked those horns. Similar to the novel Gideon is a Twin Peaks sort of town where everyone lies and broken dreams are currency. Sadly the town of Gideon is not as fun and full of rich odd little characters like it is in the book, but damn it sure is pretty.

Now there are a lot of differences from the book (the absence of Ig’s grandma, Lee’s backstory and injuries, Terry and Eric changes, and the Treehouse of the Mind). I understand why some choices are made cinematically. I am sure many of the characters were cut due to pacing and not being necessary to the central plot of the movie. I think the core is still there though. That is not why the movie suffers. So let’s get to the frustrating bits. We learn who killed Merrin in the third act, but then wait half an hour for the final confrontation. This slows the pacing down considerably. This happened in the book as well, but didn’t seem to bother me. I also wanted the backstory between Lee and Ig. I wanted everyone to see who Lee really was through his mother, through the pitchfork, and all of the past. For some reason the one note of everyone is despicable, everyone lies, and everyone is inherently evil fell a little flat. There weren’t the nuances that were in the book that made it all a bit more palatable. And yet it was still heartbreaking to see Ig realize that everyone around him, even the ones he trusted are horrid horrid people. As a devil, he has my utmost sympathy.

Rent/Cinema? Rent. In all I enjoyed the film, while different from its literary counterpart, but it was missing some of the things that made me fall in love with the book. Worth watching though. I was still entertained, but it might be more of a watch at home thing rather than spending your money seeing it in the theater.

3/4 popcorns

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TUESDAY TRAILERS: CHAPPIE

I enjoyed District 9 and Elysium had promise, so of course I will probably see Chappie and then inevitably cry…because you know how these movies go. What do you think? Plans to see it?


Summary: Every child comes into the world full of promise, and none more so than Chappie: he is gifted, special, a prodigy. Like any child, Chappie will come under the influence of his surroundings – some good, some bad – and he will rely on his heart and soul to find his way in the world and become his own man. But there's one thing that makes Chappie different from anyone else: he is a robot. The first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself. His life, his story, will change the way the world looks at robots and humans forever..…Opens March 6, 2015.

JOHN WICK: FILM REVIEW

John Wick
Directed By: Chad Stahelski
Written By: Derek Kolstad
Genre:ACTION ADVENTURE
Rated: R
Time: 106 min
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Michael Nyqvist, Alfie Allen, Willem Dafoe, and Ian McShane
Plot: An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.

Comments: 15 minutes into the movie I turned to E and said ‘They all have to die. I don’t care how, as long as it is horrible’. That is what John Wick is, a revenge film of the best kind that almost made me forgive Keanu Reeves for 47 Ronin. John Wick isn’t trying to be anything than what it is. The tone stays light, the plot isn’t overly complicated, and has enough action flash to keep you energized and wanting more. It is a revenge action flick starring an assassin who left that world behind and who is brought back by one horribly cruel act. We knew where it was going, pleased that it was going there, and enjoyed the ride to the end. The chase scenes, the fight scenes, the use of the word ‘Oh’ made me happy to see Reeves again and pray that hopefully this will be a series. If Liam Neeson can do it, so can Keanu.

Directed by two stuntmen, John Wick is the mythical boogeyman and one you should not cross. Tsk, tsk. The action scenes were fun and as E put it ‘I love that he always went for the head shot, the way a good assassin should’. That’s my man. But seriously people, I loved this movie. It’s funny, full of action and has a nice supporting cast that includes Willem Dafoe, Lance Reddick, John Leguizamo, and Ian McShane (seriously I want more hotel lore). I loved the hotel and those who could be staying there, and definitely those who run it. Oh the stories. I liked reactions from those who know Wick (the cop who comes to Wicks house…that exchange was priceless), I liked his car, and I liked the insert coin door at the hotel club.

Rent/Cinema? Rent (simply because it is no longer in theaters). I know I am late to the party because to be honest if I hadn’t seen a trailer about it during Fury, I never would have convinced E to go see it with me on date night.

Monday, November 17, 2014

SKIN GAME: BOOK REVIEW

Skin Game (Dresden Files #15)
Written by: Jim Butcher
Paperback: 454 pages
Publisher: Roc Hardcover
Language: English
May 2014
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Series

Harry Dresden, Chicago’s only professional wizard, is about to have a very bad day….

Because as Winter Knight to the Queen of Air and Darkness, Harry never knows what the scheming Mab might want him to do. Usually, it’s something awful. He doesn’t know the half of it….

Mab has just traded Harry’s skills to pay off one of her debts. And now he must help a group of supernatural villains—led by one of Harry’s most dreaded and despised enemies, Nicodemus Archleone—to break into the highest-security vault in town so that they can then access the highest-security vault in the Nevernever.

It’s a smash-and-grab job to recover the literal Holy Grail from the vaults of the greatest treasure hoard in the supernatural world—which belongs to the one and only Hades, Lord of the freaking Underworld and generally unpleasant character. Worse, Dresden suspects that there is another game afoot that no one is talking about. And he’s dead certain that Nicodemus has no intention of allowing any of his crew to survive the experience. Especially Harry.

Dresden’s always been tricky, but he’s going to have to up his backstabbing game to survive this mess—assuming his own allies don’t end up killing him before his enemies get the chance….


+++++++++++++

I am probably not the only one around here who loves heist movies, tv shows, and even heist books. I live for my crew on Leverage, dig movies like the Ocean films, The Italian Job, and the Inside Man. Heist Society by Ally Carter is cute and The Great Train Roberry by Crichton isn’t too bad. So what is it about the whole heist thing? Is it the danger? Is it the fact that each person on the crew has a specific job and creative ways to handle some fairly tough challenges? Sometimes there are riddles and puzzles to solve (looking at you Indy and your Last Crusade with dear old dad) which are exciting. Sometimes you have quirky little thieves who you wish your new bestie (looking at you Parker). There is excitement and danger when you set off to steal something you shouldn’t. And maybe some Parkour.

While I am a huge Harry fan, I will also be the first to admit that some volumes are stronger than others. My favorites have that amazing blend of action, violence, humor, and snark. But lately every book, while good mind you, has been kind of a downer. Cold Days gave us some massive revelations, but you kind of feel like whoa…heaviness much. So when I listened to Jim Butcher read the first chapter from Skin Game a couple of years ago at MisCon, I started getting excited. I didn’t realize it was a heist novel yet that would put Harry and Nicodemus together to steal things from Hades. It had Harry saying parkour a lot and in a way I felt like I had Harry back. Here was the goofball Harry. The loveable oaf that is the best sort of hero. I thought he was lost in Cold Days, but now maybe, just maybe I was going to get him back. Sure he’s been through a lot and I know there is much more to come, but I missed him to be honest. I missed the funny. I missed the snark. I kind of just wanted an episode of the week you know instead of the potential destruction of everything we know and love. Which I know may have frustrated people, but we’ll get to that later.

Anyway, it still took me 6 months to pick up Skin Game. I was nervous. Yep. Me. But Harry does that to me. Changes floored me. What can I say. I have been gun shy ever since. But eventually I did pick it up in Hardback form and because I love Harry so much I also decided to let James Marsters be Harry for a few hours on audiobook as he will always be Harry for me. Like I said Harry has been through a lot. And I don’t think any of us really ever expected Harry to become the Winter Knight especially when we know how insane Mab is (in that deliciously wicked sort of way). Okay so he had no choice but to take up the mantle and ever since Harry has been trying to find a way not to become a monster and bend to every single one of her desires and wishes. He is also now the warden of Demonreach which has its own peculiar little set of problems and responsibilities. You would think Harry could get a break, but of course not.

Mab shows up and lets Harry know that she has loaned his services out to another. This is bad enough, but when Harry learns that it is Denarian baddie Nicodemus, he really wants to get out of the job. This is the man who killed Shiro after all, why on Earth would Harry would work with him. If he tries to get out of the job she will let the parasite in his head burst from his skull in a bloody mess. If he does this task, she will help him remove it and thus end the migraines from hell. What is a wizard to do?

Nicodemus wants to raid Hades’ vault…yep that Hades, and steal the Holy Grail. Oh and to get there they also have to steal from Johnny Marcone. Sounds like fun right? Nicodemus has assembled his own crew which includes his sociapathic daughter/lover Deirdre, Binder the Summoner, a shapeshifter named Goodman Grey, and another magic user named Hannah Ascher. Harry brings along Murphy for his own support along with a thief of his choosing. So all that is left is to storm the Underworld.

Things I liked:
After the drama filled, tension high, and full of revelations small trilogy that were the last three books like I said earlier, it was nice to have a small change. I liked the heist theme. I liked the episodic feel of this book. Now I know there may be many who were disappointed because there were no answers to the many new questions dangled in front of us after Cold Days, but I was okay with a respite. I was okay to have my funny Harry back full of Big Trouble in Little China references and making me smile with every shout of ‘parkour’.

Of course Skin Game is not without its own intrigue and new reveals whether it is Butters and his new weapon of choice, a kiss that was a long time coming, and discovering that Hades essentially named his three headed dog Spot. Hilarious. Plus, I love Nicodemus and the Denarians. They are one of my favorite villains. They have goals and plans. Sadly for Harry, they also always seem to be two steps ahead no matter how much he tries to thwart them. They leave a path of destruction wherever they go. I will say that whenever they are around they also make sure that nothing is ever the same after they leave.

I think there is a reason for this book though. The major players are all starting to show up, things are changing, roles becoming different. I can only assume that this means we are reaching a denouement. Things are coming. So no, this was not a wasted book. I also like that we had another form of mythos in the mix with Hades. Sure we have fallen angels, angels, the fey, shapeshifters and such, but having other religions was nice. How much influence does he have? What can he do? How much will he let happen? Exciting things I must say.

Above all I loved the heist aspect and I am curious to see how the new reveals will change future tales. I hope we get to see Goodman Grey again (nice addition Mr Butcher) and now that Harry no longer has something inside his head waiting to break free, how on earth is she going to change everyone’s lives?

Things I didn’t like so much:
Yeah not a whole lot I didn’t like. Harry is having an identity crisis, everything is different and changing. I only wish Nicodemus would just die and yet I need him as a villain even if we don’t see him all the time. He and the Denarians will show up again and I know I will be glad to see them.

Okay i will admit that sometimes the pacing was bit slow and the story uneven, but I was so happy to have an acerbic Harry back that I am willing to forgive those few small things.

Buy or Borrow: Buy.

Part of:Part of the Dresden Files
Book One: Storm Front
Book Two: Fool Moon
Book Three: Grave Peril
Book Four: Summer Knight
Book Five: Death Masks
Book Six: Blood Rites
Book Seven: Dead Beat
Book Eight: Proven Guilty
Book Nine: White Night
Book Ten: Small Favor
Book Eleven: Turn Coat
Book Twelve: Changes
Book Thirteen: Ghost Story
Book Fourteen: Cold Days
Also Recommended: The rest of the Dresden Files of course, Something from the Nightside by Simon R Green, The Matthew Swift novels by Kate Griffin and The Felix Castor series by Mike Carey

3.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

FURY: MOVIE REVIEW

Fury (2014)
Directed By: David Ayer
Written By: David Ayer
Genre:ACTION ADVENTURE/DRAMA
Rated: R
Time: 134 min
Starring: Brad Pitt, Shia LaBeouf, Logan Lerman, Michael Pena, Jon Bernthal, Jason Isaacs
Plot: "April, 1945. As the Allies make their final push in the European Theatre, a battle-hardened army sergeant named Wardaddy commands a Sherman tank and his five-man crew on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Out-numbered, out-gunned, and with a rookie soldier thrust into their platoon, Wardaddy and his men face overwhelming odds in their heroic attempts to strike at the heart of Nazi Germany.

Comments: Joon-ho Bong has done some great films, The Host and Mother being two of them. Now most people haven’t heard about Snowpiercer or are lucky enough to have it show up in their local theater. I knew that US distributors wanted to cut 20 minutes from the film, but the director wouldn’t budge and good for him. Luckily the same time it is out in theaters, it is also available through our XboxOne.

When my dad and I have movie night if there is a war film out, you can wager that is probably what we will be seeing. This week it is Fury, a WWII film about a tank. Now the trailers would lead you to believe that it would be your typical heroic triumphant tale of how a lone, broken tank held the lines and took out 300 Nazi soldiers. Or something like that. Instead for me it was all about the soldiers in the tank from Brad Pitt’s ‘War Daddy’ to young Lerman’s ‘Machine’. War is brutal and this isn’t exactly the kind of film you walk out feeling all light and fluffy or even jazzed up about. Mostly it was depressing. But that is what war is. It’s depressing. It’s ugly and it’s horrific. This movie was about war. But it was also about Fury. ‘Fury’ is the tank that houses Brad Pitt and his small little family of survivors. It’s also the tank that provides the action for the last act of the film. Fury is also the emotion that is frequently spotted. Fury that war is hell. Fury that war isn’t polite. And Fury that there seems to be no way out.

Each man in the tank plays a different stereotype. You have the Jesus saves crewmember, Bible (Shia LeBeauf who is actually really good in this role despite being fairly one dimensional compared to Pitt and Lerman), the hick you love to hate Coon Ass (Jon Bernthal), and your obligatory ethnic crew member Gordo (a woefully underrated Michael Peña). It is a shame that the other men in Fury do not have the layers that Wardaddy and Norman have. Instead there are good performances with cookie cutter archetypes. The chemistry between them all seems very real and natural and I actually wonder how many things may have been improvised due to that natural chemistry.

One of the best scenes in the movie is when Team Fury and gang manages to hold a small village. Most members of the Fury crew go get drunk and find some R&R in the arms of a local woman, or you know have fun pillaging, but Wardaddy finds an apartment with two women and invites Norman to go with him. It is a tense meeting at first and I begged Wardaddy to not be like his compatriots, to be a good man. He offers eggs if the older of the two would just cook them and asks for water to clean up. It’s a brief respite from war. There is piano playing, smiles, and even some laughter. But the innocence is shattered when the rest of the crew find them. They are drunk, hostile, grabbing at the pretty German women, and being everything you don’t want them to be. They are racist, they are cruel, and completely unwelcome. Old war horror stories and past events shatter the calm. It’s heartbreaking as is the scene that follows. But that is the thing…the whole movie is heartbreaking, even the final act. Because it is about war and how it changes you, lingers, and destroys.

Rent/Cinema? Cinema (If you can). While it’s not a movie I will buy when it comes to video, I am not disappointed that I saw it. I did want more from it, but that is because you had a decent cast. It was almost as if the film wasn’t sure what it wanted to be and the pacing is slow in many parts. But like I said I enjoyed and it was entertained. And to me that is the best perk when going to the movies.

3/4 popcorns

Thursday, November 6, 2014

PARTY GAMES by RL STINE: A Review

Party Games
Written by: R.L. Stine
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Language: English
September 2014
Genre: Young Adult/ Horror

Her friends warn her not to go to Brendan Fear's birthday party at his family's estate on mysterious Fear Island. But Rachel Martin has a crush on Brendan and is excited to be invited. Brendan has a lot of party games planned. But one game no one planned intrudes on his party—the game of murder. As the guests start dying one by one, Rachel realizes to her horror that she and the other teenagers are trapped on the tiny island with someone who may want to kill them all. How to escape this deadly game? Rachel doesn't know whom she can trust. She should have realized that nothing is as it seems… on Fear Island.

R.L. Stine makes his triumphant return to Shadyside, a town of nightmares, shadows, and genuine terror, and to the bestselling series that began his career writing horror for the juvenile market, in the new Fear Street book Party Games.


+++++++++++++

When I think about some of my favorite books growing up, RL Stine’s Fear Street series and anything by Christopher Pike were pretty numerous on the teenage self’s bookshelves. Ooh how I loved the Fear street saga with the murders and the ghosts and the monsters. And Christopher Pike…he was my King and Koontz. Seriously it was all murder, mayhem, sex, booze…everything I wasn’t supposed to read all in a lovely paperback form. Babysitter’s Club and Nancy Drew they were not. I still have some of my favorites on my bookshelf such as Remember Me, Fall into Darkness, Witch, Whisper of Death, Scavenger Hunt, and the Last Vampires series. There were other horror lite books as well from Lois Duncan, Caroline Cooney, and others but those two were my favorite. Ooh I still love them as batshit crazy as some of the plots were (looking at you Scavenger Hunt).

When I heard that RL Stine was reviving the Fear Street saga after 15 years, my inner me may have squealed a bit. But love for nostalgia can be sometimes disappointing. Sometimes things we loved as kids don’t hold up to the ages. We have become different people with different tastes and higher vocabularies. And yet, there is something about the Fear Street books and that whole genre of YA horror that I still love to this day and I want more of to be honest. Plus nostalgia can be a wonderful thing sometimes and as I waited to get my hands on Party Games I started thinking about a lot of different things from my childhood and how they shaped me to be what I am today.

Party Games begins with Rachel Martin, a typical high school girl who lives in Shadyside and spends her afternoons as a waitress at one of the local diners. When her crush, Brendan Fear, invites her to his birthday party she cannot help but be excited. Sure he is a Fear and the party is on the isolated Fear Island, but those stories about the Fears are just stupid tales that no one really believes anymore. Her best friend warns her not to go, and the ominous dead rat in her bed should be a warning as well, but Rachel will not cave in. This is her chance.

As soon as the group of teens show up on Fear island, the accidents begin. It began with the boat captain, their only way off the island. Determined not to let an accident ruin his Birthday party Brendan sets up a scavenger party and asks Rachel to be his partner. But when the scavenger hunt turns deadly, Rachel finds herself fighting for her life instead of first place. Is Brendan really what he seems? Is there a Fear family curse? And is Rachel destined to be one of its victims?

Things I liked:
I was looking forward to this book so much. And because of that I had some high expectations. While Christopher Pike’s books were my favorite, the Fear Street saga came in at a close second. They were full of the supernatural, of ghosts in mirrors, and curses, and murder and mayhem. The story began slowly, but the plot of Fear Island and a Scavenger Hunt by famed game master Brendan had me intrigued. Add in an old boyfriend for Rachel and it was promising. Even more so when you hear the story of how the Fear family may have been bored one night on the island and so decided to turn out all of the servants and go hunt them for sport. Ooh potential ghosties. I am down.

Now it didn’t all go down the way I expected and there are some major flaws in the book, but we will get to that in a moment. There are some nice old school Fear Street references and little fan shout outs like that make me smile. Especially since Stine was inspired to go back to Fear Street after reading some tweets from fans who were and still are such big fans of the series. Sure the series is 15 years old and most of us teens are now pretending to be adults and kids of our own that may someday dig the series like we did.

I love anything with Scavenger Hunts and the Party Game murders were clever. I didn’t hate Rachel so that was a plus and I like the small twist in the story. There was the cheese factor that I am expecting in a Fear Street or YA horror novel (not unlike my favorite horror film).

Things I didn’t like so much:
But overall I cannot help but be a little disappointed. I know I had some high expectations and some pretty big nostalgia fondness going in, but both the pacing and the prose were a bit lacking. One of the things that I loved about the YA Horror trend is that I felt like I was reading a Stephen King story I could relate to. It wasn’t middle grade reading, but it also wasn’t full of words I had to go look up. This prose feels too Goosebumps and not enough Fear Street.

When I read a Fear Street book I want Fear Street. I want ghosts, I want the supernatural. I want curses. And Party Games really could have taken place anywhere, certainly not specifically Shadyside. I wanted more impending doom and glimpses of horror, but I really just got a story that was never really followed through and a dead rodent in a bed. I needed more than just the Fear name. I could have had so much more. This is your return to Shadyside Mr. Stine, a chance to please your readers from a bit of a go and to excite new readers and perhaps, if I am lucky, bring horror back to YA. In the end I don’t think this was RL Stine’s best, that he may be a little rusty when it comes to the Fears. Don’t talk down to your readers. Trust me they like to be scared and they will read your books if you give them the thrills they are looking for.

To finish this all off…I didn’t like the ending. Too neat. Too easy. It just doesn’t work like that. Also teenagers don’t say half of the things that were in the dialogue. Maybe I am just getting old, but I was disappointed in Party Games. Sure, I will wait for the next one and see if maybe Stine hits his stride again. And by the Powers that Be I really do hope there is a resurgence in YA horror. This just wasn’t it.

Buy or Borrow: Borrow.

Part of:Part of the Fear Street Series

Also Recommended: Remember Me by Christopher Pike, The Fog by Caroline B Cooney, Fear Park by RL Stine, and Witch by Christopher Pike

2.5 out of 4 happy bibliosnark bookmarks 

Monday, November 3, 2014

NOVEMBER: WATCH/READ/PLAY

Ah November. The second month for all things pumpkin. Now we get turkey and cranberries too. I love the Autumn. It is finally starting to get cold around here and I expect we will get our first real snow here any day now. The leaves are nearly off the trees, I have decided which new shows to keep watching or just give up on, and we are finally ramping up to my favorite video game release. I have a feeling that November is going to be a lovely month.

MOVIES
Big Hero 6
Genre: Animated
Stars: Ryan Potter, Scott Adsit, Jamie Chung, T.J. Miller

In short:The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes. So so looking forward to this one. (November 7)

Interstellar
Genre: SciFi/Drama
Stars: Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Mackenzie Foy

In short: Our time on Earth is coming to an end, so a team of space explorers (Mathew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway) undertakes the most important mission in human history: use a newly discovered wormhole to surpass the limitations on human space travel and conquer the vast distances involved in an interstellar voyage so that makind has a future. (November 7)

Foxcatcher
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Stars: Steve Carell, Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave

In short: Based on the true story of Mark Schultz, an Olympic wrestler whose relationship with sponsor John du Pont and brother Dave Schultz would lead to unlikely circumstances. To be honest I want to see this because I want to see Steve Carell do something a little bit different as I think the man is insanely talented. (November 14)

Mockingjay Part One
Genre: Adventure/SciFi
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson

In short: Katniss Everdeen is in District 13 after she shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. Can. Not. Wait. Especially since Catching Fire was such a pleasant surprise with a new director. (November 21)

The Imitation Game
Genre: Biography/Drama/Thriller
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech

In short: English mathematician and logician, Alan Turing, helps crack the Enigma code during World War II. (November 28)

The Babadook
Genre: Horror
Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech

In short: A single mother, plagued by the violent death of her husband, battles with her son's fear of a monster lurking in the house, but soon discovers a sinister presence all around her. I love Essie in Miss Fisher’s Mysteries and the first time I saw the trailer it gave me happy little horror chills. Of course this means it will never come here. Sad face. (November 28)

BOOKS

Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier (Nov 4)
In short: In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she'll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters. With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.


A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray (Nov 4)
In short: Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him. Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined. A Thousand Pieces of You explores a reality where we witness the countless other lives we might lead in an amazingly intricate multiverse, and ask whether, amid infinite possibilities, one love can endure.


Symbiont by Mira Grant (Nov 25)
In short: THE ENEMY IS INSIDE US. The SymboGen designed tapeworms were created to relieve humanity of disease and sickness. But the implants in the majority of the world's population began attacking their hosts turning them into a ravenous horde. Now those who do not appear to be afflicted are being gathered for quarantine as panic spreads, but Sal and her companions must discover how the tapeworms are taking over their hosts, what their eventual goal is, and how they can be stopped.

GAMES

Call of Duty Advanced Warfare - November 2
Assassins Creed: Unity – November 11
Dragon Age: Inquisition – November 18
Far Cry 4 – November 18


Did I miss anything?