Friday, September 28, 2012

Movie Review - Resident Evil 5: Retribution

Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) * * * *
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Stars: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Michelle Rodriguez

From IMDB:
"The Umbrella Corporation's deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race's last and only hope, Alice, awakens in the heart of Umbrella's most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex."

My Thoughts:
Many people feel that by now, the Resident Evil franchise has run its' course and should be allowed to die a gruesome, bloody death, followed by a quick shot to the head to keep it from coming back to life as an undead reanimated mutant.

I am not one of those people.

I do not know why I like this series of movies so much, as I usually dislike horror films in general and blood and gore in specific.  But I love these movies, and I suppose most of the blame belongs to Milla Jovovich, who I adore.

However much I may have loved the first few films in the series, I have to honestly admit that RE5, while not bad, was not all that it could have been.  The beginning of the film recaps the story up to now quite nicely, beginning immediately where the previous film ended, and then, as so often happens, Alice wakes up in an Umbrella Corp cell, unsure of where she is or how much time has passed.  She soon learns that she is deep below the surface of the ocean in a secret testing facility where the Umbrella Corporation is continuing their testing of the T-virus.  A rescue team is on the way to extract her, but she must travel through the testing facility to meet them so they can escape to the surface.  Umbrella Corp has perfected the cloning technology that began with Alice, and have created clones of many of the people from Alice's past, who she encounters throughout her escape, and depending on the clone's programming/brainwashing, may be helpful or trying to kill her.  Add in the hundreds of infected mobs roaming the facility, and Alice has her work cut out for her.

Unfortunately, the plot is nearly non-existent.  Alice has to meet the extraction team and escape - that's it.  Along the way she fights mutants and infected that she's defeated before, in a variety of situations, and there is very little of anything that is new or fresh.  Basically this movie is all about getting Alice out of the impossible situation that she found herself in at the end of RE4, and moving her into position for the real story and action that is to come next.  The ending scenes of RE5 are truly amazing and horrifying as she learns just how close to extinction the human race has come, and I wish that most of RE5 had been cut and we had just been brought straight to the exciting part.  I hope they do end up making RE6, because THAT is where the story will get good again, but with so much wasted time and space in RE5, I don't know if that will ever happen.

Most of that probably didn't make much sense unless you've already seen the movie - Sorry for that.  I guess my point is that they wasted a lot of time getting her to where she needs to be next.  I just hope we get to someday see what happens after she got there, as the ending of the film is a giant cliff-hanger.

As usual, the film is visually compelling and stunning for the most part, although sometimes more gory than it really needs to be.  The fight scenes are pretty awesome, as is to be expected, and there are major scares around almost every corner.  I really wanted to be able to give Resident Evil: Retribution five stars, but it probably deserves less than three.  I'm splitting the difference at four stars due to some of the amazing visual moments in the film (watch for the underwater pyramid of undead, and the final shot in the film - both are stunning!).  Basically if you are a fan of the franchise you'll probably love the movie.  If you aren't already a fan you probably won't, and if you haven't seen any of the previous films then this may not be the best place to jump in for the first time.

So there's my opinion - What's yours?  Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of Resident Evil: Retribution, or if you are planning on seeing it.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!


Matthew and Diana have left England and traveled to Matthew's ancestral home in France, at the command of his father, Philippe.  Philippe has decided that Matthew and Diana's marriage isn't "real," and that a new wedding must be held, beginning with a feast, with everyone in the castle and village in attendance.

The Tease:
 "Our entry into the hall was greeted with whispers and sidelong glances.  The changes in my appearance had been noted, and the nods told me that at last I looked like someone who was fit to marry milord."
 -Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness

What's your Tease?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Movie Review - The Odd Life of Timothy Green

The Odd Life of Timothy Green (2012) * * * *
Director: Peter Hedges
Starring: Jennifer Garner, Joel Edgerton and CJ Adams

From IMDB:
"After receiving bad news from a fertility doctor, Cindy and Jim Green try to bury their dreams of having a child by writing out all the great traits their child would have and putting them in a box in the garden. During a freak storm in the middle of the night, they awake to find a boy named Timothy, with leaves growing from his ankles, standing in their kitchen calling them mom and dad. Cindy and Jim are thrown into the midst of parenthood and over the coming months, Timothy will teach them more than they could have imagined about being parents and raising a child, no matter how he comes into their lives."

My Thoughts:
I've adored Jennifer Garner for years and years, and so even though I didn't think I was particularly interested in what seems at first glance to be a kid's movie, when Bob said he wanted to see it I was more than willing.  But it turns out that The Odd Life of Timothy Green is a thoroughly adorable movie suitable for both children and adults.

The story starts off a little sad as the couple find out they can never have children of their own, and they return home to their mid-western small town home and begin to deal with their grief by making a list of every great and awesome quality that they would want their child to posses, and burying the list in a box in their vegetable garden.

When Timothy first arrives they aren't quite sure what to think, or what to do, and as they try to introduce Timothy to their friends and family while making everything seems totally normal are hysterically funny.  Before long they realize that Timothy is, one by one, fulfilling all of the items on their original list.  Meanwhile, Timothy begins to lose the strange leaves attached to his legs, a fact which he carefully hides from his new parents, who try so hard to protect Timothy and make his life awesome while struggling to not make the mistakes of their own parents..

I won't spoil the ending even though it was predictable from the very beginning of the film, but in spite of the film's predictability it was satisfying, fun, cute, adorable, and nearly perfect in all of its' sugary sweetness.  Great writing and good pacing make this a fun movie, suitable for all ages.  I give it 4 stars, and Bob loved it.

Have you seen The Odd Life of Timothy Green yet?  What did you think?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Book Review - Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds

Poseidon's Children:
1. Blue Remembered Earth, 09/11/2012 * * * * *

From Goodreads:
"With his critically acclaimed Revelation Space novels, Alastair Reynolds confirmed “his place among the leaders of the hard-science space opera renaissance.” (Publishers Weekly) With Blue Remembered Earth, the award-winning author begins a new epic, tracing generations of one family across more than ten thousand years of future history—into interstellar space and the dawn of galactic society…

One hundred and fifty years from now, Africa has become the world’s dominant technological and economic power. Crime, war, disease and poverty have been eliminated. The Moon and Mars are settled, and colonies stretch all the way out to the edge of the solar system. And Ocular, the largest scientific instrument in history, is about to make an epochal discovery…

Geoffrey Akinya wants only one thing: to be left in peace, so that he can continue his long-running studies into the elephants of the Amboseli basin. But Geoffrey’s family, who control the vast Akinya business empire, has other plans for him. After the death of his grandmother Eunice—the erstwhile space explorer and entrepreneur—something awkward has come to light on the Moon, so Geoffrey is dispatched there to ensure the family name remains untarnished. But the secrets Eunice died with are about to be revealed—secrets that could change everything...or tear this near utopia apart."

My Thoughts:
Blue Remembered Earth opens a window into a future history that feels very believable.  The story traces the events in the lives of two siblings who are part of a vastly wealthy family with business ventures spanning the solar system.  Though both Sunday and Geoffrey have each turned their backs on the family business in their own ways, they remain close to each other, and when their grandmother Eunice dies, they are each drawn into the mystery of her life and death, and the clues she left behind to carefully guide her descendants to a nearly unimaginable discovery.

I haven't read much by Alastair Reynolds, but after finishing Blue Remembered Earth, I think that is something that I need to change.  Reynolds seems to have a limitless imagination and his vision of the future of humanity and its' passage into space is intriguing, fascinating, and above all, positive.

I began reading Blue Remembered Earth immediately after finishing 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson (my review here), and it was impossible not to compare the two novels in my mind as I read.  Both novels have a similar scale of where the story takes place (all across the solar system), both take place in the not-too-distant future, and both authors make use of interesting, fantastic, and yet believable technology.  I gave 2312 only three stars, which was a little disappointing to me, as I had expected so much more from it.  So if the two novels seem so similar on the surface, why am I giving Blue Remembered Earth five stars?

Blue Remembered Earth feels like a very intimate story, for one thing.  The characters feel real, and have understandable reactions and feelings that I as the reader can identify with, and I felt that I was living the story with them, rather than having their stories relayed to me by a third party.  And this is something that Reynolds seem to excel at - showing and making the read feel what is happening.

You hear it all the time, if you read anything about writing, or have taken classes or workshops.  One of the cardinal rules of writing is "Show, don't Tell."  Reynolds seems to be a master at this, showing us his version of this future Earth through the eyes of his characters, rather than telling or instructing the reader.  This doesn't always work perfectly of course - characters in the story "voked an aug" several times before I finally realized what this meant, but really this just made me more curious about his world and this future, and the realization of the possibilities of these different types of neural "augmentations" was fascinating in and of itself.

Another major difference between Blue Remembered Earth and 2312 was the subtle yet powerful way that Reynolds made me care about and identify with the main characters, Geoffrey and Sunday, and even several of the lesser characters, to the extent that I found myself quite upset when Memphis---Ah! But that would be a spoiler!  Suffice it to say that the characters are real and likable, and even the unlikeable characters are still engaging.

Again, Reynolds' talent of showing the reader not only what is happening to or around his characters, but also how they feel and think is masterful to the point that I believed I could see the landscape of Mars with Sunday, or feel the loneliness that Geoffrey imagined when looking back at the tiny blue marble of Earth.

Overall, Blue Remembered Earth is well paced story of a plausible future, and a family's search for the truth.  Told with a sense of awe and wonder, and set in a series of fantastic locales, it is never preachy, and always intriguing.  As I stated above, I believe this novel deserves 5 stars, and I cannot wait to read book two!

Have you read Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds yet?  Do you plan to?  What are your thoughts?  As always, feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!


This week I've just begun a new book, Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness.  This is the second book in the All Soul's Trilogy.  Matthew and Diana have safely time-walked back to the year 1590 and arrived in England as planned.  After a few days settling in, Matthew makes an attempt to find a local witch to teach Diana how to control her constantly changing powers.

The Tease:
 "A true witch can relight the fire, open the pages of the book, and stop the bell from ringing.  She is a wonderful creature in the eyes of God."
Widow Beaton paused for dramatic effect, and her milky eye rolled in my direction.
  "Can you perform these acts, girl?"
"I'm not sure," I confessed hesitantly."
 -Shadow of Night, by Deborah Harkness

What's your Tease?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Movie Review - The Bourne Legacy

The Bourne Legacy (2012) * * * *
Director: Tony Gilroy
Starring: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz and Edward Norton

The Bourne Legacy Movie Poster
From IMDB:
"An expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum's novels, centered on Aaron Cross, a new hero, who experiences life-or-death stakes which have been triggered by the events of the previous three films."

My Thoughts:
Over the last few years I have quite enjoyed the first three movies in the Bourne saga, partly because they are great action films, partly because of the "mystery/spy" elements, and partly because I'm one of those people who just really likes Matt Damon.

I do!

Stop laughing.

So when I began to hear rumors that a fourth Bourne film was in the works, and that it would NOT have Matt Damon in it, I was very disappointed and skeptical, and was literally mere seconds away from swearing a solemn vow to refuse to see The Bourne Legacy when I realized it was starring Jeremy Renner - who, as it happens, I like even more than Matt Damon.

Still I wasn't sure it would work.  It's a new agent, ok, I can handle that. It's good to mix things up a little, freshen up the story.   Then things started sound confusing - simultaneous timelines, different black ops agencies, and super-powers?  Say, whaaaaaat??

So, yeah. But it turns out that The Bourne Legacy is a REALLY good film.  Aaron Cross is an agent in a different program - the agents are treated with various drugs to increase their physical and mental abilities, and closely monitored and studied.  But when Jason Bourne and Pamela Landy blow the lid on Treadstone, the resulting investigations threaten other secret programs, and the head honchos begin cleaning house to cover their own asses - eliminating all their agents and researchers.  Cross manages to evade his own assassination attempt, and goes looking for the doctor who can get him more of the drugs that will help him maintain his mental acuity.  Unfortunately, she's also being targeted by the agency for knowing too much, so of course, they both go on the run to try to save their own lives.

Shakespeare it isn't - but what it is, is loads of fun.  Renner does a great job as Agent Cross, effectively portraying both the hardened agent and also the vulnerable not-so-bright soldier he used to be before the drugs opened his eyes to a whole new world that he is now terrified of losing.  I've always loved Rachel Weisz, and she's amazing in this role - brainy, frightened, hysterical at times, yet pulling it together to get the job done when it counts.

Of course in a movie like this there's lots of explosions and chase scene, and while some have complained that there were too many chase scenes or that some of them lasted too long.  I heartily disagree, but I will admit there was a brief moment where I thought, "Just escape already!" but then something awesome happened so it was all ok!

I think The Bourne Legacy lives up to it's predecessors and deserves 4 stars.  A little more character development might have bumped it up to five stars, but overall it's a great action film, and if you like the previous Bourne movies I believe you'll like this one as well.

I'm way late on this review, so most of you have probably seen it already - What did you think of The Bourne Legacy?  Leave me a comment and let me know if you agree with me, or if you think I'm all sorts of wrong about the film!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Book Review - Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson

Elantris, Brandon Sanderson  09/16/2005  * * * * *

From Goodreads:
"Elantris was the capital of Arelon: gigantic, beautiful, literally radiant, filled with benevolent beings who used their powerful magical abilities for the benefit of all. Yet each of these demigods was once an ordinary person until touched by the mysterious transforming power of the Shaod.

Ten years ago, without warning, the magic failed. Elantrians became wizened, leper-like, powerless creatures, and Elantris itself dark, filthy, and crumbling. Arelon's new capital, Kae, crouches in the shadow of Elantris.

Princess Sarene of Teod arrives for a marriage of state with Crown Prince Raoden, hoping -- based on their correspondence -- to also find love. She finds instead that Raoden has died and she is considered his widow. Both Teod and Arelon are under threat as the last remaining holdouts against the imperial ambitions of the ruthless religious fanatics of Fjordell. So Sarene decides to use her new status to counter the machinations of Hrathen, a Fjordell high priest who has come to Kae to convert Arelon and claim it for his emperor and his god.

But neither Sarene nor Hrathen suspect the truth about Prince Raoden. Stricken by the same curse that ruined Elantris, Raoden was secretly exiled by his father to the dark city. His struggle to help the wretches trapped there begins a series of events that will bring hope to Arelon, and perhaps reveal the secret of Elantris itself.

A rare epic fantasy that doesn't recycle the classics and that is a complete and satisfying story in one volume, Elantris is fleet and fun, full of surprises and characters to care about. It's also the wonderful debut of a welcome new star in the constellation of fantasy."

My Thoughts:
Wow - it has been almost seven years since I first read Elantris, the debut fantasy novel written by Brandon Sanderson, and I still count it as one of the best Fantasy novels I've ever read.  This is where Sanderson showed the world for the first time his amazing ability to create new and exciting worlds and characters, an ability that has only gotten better with time.  The magic system in this novel is unique and creative, and the story balances nicely between action and political intrigue.

Princess Sarene herself is a fascinating character.  Sanderson writes strong female leads quite well; Sarene is sharp, quick-witted, and not afraid to get her hands dirty when the need arises.  I thoroughly enjoyed discovering Elantris through her eyes as she and Prince Raoden search for the truth and try to save their kingdoms.

Overall I've given Elantris five stars, which might seem like a lot for a debut novel, but it's just that good.  If you haven't read anything by Brandon Sanderson, there's no better place to start than with Elantris.

If you have read Elantris, or plan to, leave a comment below and let me know what you think!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!


This week my Tease is not from my current read.  Instead I've chosen a Tease from a novel I read a few years ago, just to shake things up a bit.  Elantris is the debut novel from Brandon Sanderson, published in 2005, back before he was chosen to complete The Wheel of Time series for Robert Jordan.  It's a rather brilliant fantasy novel, entirely unique, and very entertaining.

The Tease:
 "The Shaod, it was called. The Transformation...
When it came, the fortunate person's life ended and began anew; he would discard his old, mundane existence and move to Elantris.
Elantris, where he could live in bliss, rule in wisdom, and be worshiped for eternity.
Eternity ended ten years ago."
 -Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson

What's your Tease?

Friday, September 7, 2012

Movie Review - Total Recall

Total Recall (2012) * * * *
Director: Len Wiseman
Starring: Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston

From IMDB:
"A factory worker, Douglas Quaid, begins to suspect that he is a spy after visiting Rekall - a company that provides its clients with implanted fake memories of a life they would like to have led - goes wrong and he finds himself on the run."

My Thoughts:
Total Recall is, as I'm sure everyone is aware, a remake of a 1990 film of the same name starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sharon Stone and Michael Ironside, and inspired by a short story written by Philip K. Dick.

In the original film, Douglas Quaid ends up on Mars and saves the red planet from a maniacal overlord.  It's campy and comedic as often as it is serious, and for its' time the technology was breathtakingly imaginative.

The remake however, goes a different way.  It's serious through and through, the technology is still awesomely inventive (a hand-phone? Yes PLEASE, sign me up!), but it's grittier and darker, and completely Earth-bound.  The special effects were very well done (I loved the "weightless" scene), and overall the movie is visually stunning.  Colin Farrell did a better acting job than I expected, and Kate Beckinsale shines (as she usually does - no surprise there) as Quaid's "fake" wife. 

My problems with the movie were that I had a really hard time suspending my disbelief throughout several sections of the film (Elevator through the Earth's core?), and that I kept comparing it to the original in my mind while watching it.  But overall I do think it was a good film, it was loads of fun, and told a fantastic spy/mystery story.

But I did kinda miss Mars a little bit.

Have you seen Total Recall yet?  What were YOUR thoughts about the film?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Tomorrow is National Buy A Book Day!

I just found this little gem via  It appears that tomorrow, September 7, is THE day to go buy a book!

According to their website:
"The National Buy a Book Day Foundation's primary activity is educating the American people on the importance of books to our culture and community by encouraging citizens to go to any bookstore on September 7th of each year, which we hope to establish as National Buy a Book Day, and buy a book. By buying a book, as a community, every year on the same day, we come together in support of books, booksellers, authors, and publishers alike. This is the exclusive goal of the organization, and it is funded entirely from public and corporate donations."
 I think this sounds like a fabulous idea, and I already know what book I'm going to buy!  Will you join in?  It doesn't matter if it is a new book, a used book, (or even an e-book)!  It can be a gift for someone else, but it's also the perfect excuse to buy that one guilty pleasure you've been wanting to read but haven't taken the time to purchase.  Big or small, expensive or cheap it doesn't matter - just buy a book!

And help spread the word!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

TV News - New Official Poster for Season 3 of The Walking Dead

AMC revealed a new poster for Season 3 of The Walking Dead, which returns on October 14th - Only a few weeks away!

I love this new poster, and I think the tagline is great - "Fight the Dead.  Fear the Living."  Sounds like Season 3 will explore new territory and new threats to Rick and Company.  So far, fighting the dead has been their main concern.  Now they face a new menace - the living.

To me a prison sounds like a horrible place to take refuge.  What are your thoughts on the new poster, or Season 3 in general? 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just:
* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
* BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title and author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesday participants can add the book to their To Be Read (TBR) Lists if they like your teasers!


Happy Labor Day, everyone!  I hope y'all had a great weekend!

The Tease:
 "Geoffrey began to undo his restraints.  It had been difficult, but they had docked with the Winter Palace.  Now all they had to do was go inside and see what had become of Hector."
 -Blue Remembered Earth, by Alastair Reynolds

What's your Tease?