myspace layouts, myspace codes, glitter graphics Totally Biased Book and Movie Review: 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pan’s Labyrinth Movie Review

Pan’s Labyrinth

Starring: Ivana Baquero, Ariadna Gil, Sergi López

Directed by: Guillermo del Toro

Rated: R for graphic violence and some language

112 min

Drumroll please….

Ok, the musical accompaniment is probably not necessary. But here I am. Tah-DAH.

See? Drums would be nice after such a long absence.

I have no excuse. One of my many mantras…make no excuse unless you have someone to lie for you. And since no one was willing to lie about me having my leg removed due to the bite of a rare, hairy, spotted, STD-inflicted flea…. I have no excuse. Not that me missing a leg would be a reasonable excuse for not reviewing… I mean, you don’t need all ten toes to type, only four, right? And it’s not like I haven’t been reading and watching since I posted last, I have.

I’m just kind of lazy. I apologize to those of you who missed me, and to those of you who didn't, well, kiss my flea-bitten's in the garbage over there.

Ok, there, with that out of the way, let’s talk about creepiness.

The kind of creepiness that bubbles throughout the Spanish fairy tale, Pan’s Labyrinth (original title: El Laberinto del Fauno). When I left the theater, I was thinking hard, about the movie, its gruesome beauty, its wonderful special effects, its great acting… and also I was thinking about what kind of a sick, twisted-up mind comes up with the kind of creature that chases the little heroine during one bite-your-nails scene…. The thing sticks eyeballs in its palms and then hold its sharp-nailed, freakishly long-fingered hands up in front of its eyeless face, spreading the digits out- ewwwww. Excuse me while I shudder.

Ofelia, said heroine, has several enormous problems. The eyeball monster is only one of them. There is also the fact that her mother is having a very difficult pregnancy. There’s the mother’s new husband, a stepfather to rival the evil of Cinderella’s stepmama. There’s the fact that she has discovered this crazy, underground, magical kingdom of which she is apparently the long lost princess, and she has tasks to complete before she can return home. Tasks include but are not limited to; being chased by Eyeballs In Hands Dude, retrieving a key from the belly of a rather large and disgusting toad, and deciding just how much she can trust the faun who has revealed her magical destiny to her.

The faun itself is pretty creepy, but by creepy, in this case, I mean it in the… gee, I never thought of a faun as being covered with dirt and moss and making creaking sounds when it moves… kind of way.

Ofelia and her mother, Carmen, are in war-torn Europe, during World War Two. The Capitan, Ofelia’s badass (and not in a good way) stepfather is after those pesky rebels that keep going around thinking they are equal or something. Ofelia befriends Mercedes, the housekeeper, a kind, loving woman who takes the girl under her wing despite the fact that she has a few things on her mind too…namely her brother, the leader of the rebels, and that little problem of her boss being out for bro’s blood.

When I first saw the poster for this movie, I thought it was a kid’s movie. Note, doting parents of imaginative children like mine… this is Not a Kid’s Movie. (My thirteen year old enjoyed it, and didn’t complain once about reading subtitles, either! I wouldn’t have brought my ten year old on pain of death, on the other hand.) It is not rated R for the fun of it. I had to actually look away from the screen more than once, and swallow so as not to upchuck the popcorn I was merrily munching until the good old captain took a bottle to some poor peasant’s face. Yes, it’s violence, and of the graphic type. But it’s graphically wonderful too. Every actor in this film gives a spectacular performance. If the idea behind acting is to make us feel the character, his or her motives, ambitions, love and hate and, in some fun cases, seething worm-eaten madness... well then, this cast succeeds. The creatures populating the underground kingdom are wonderful and believable, if you have that kind of heart that beats twice as fast in anticipation of good old fashioned Brother’s Grimm-type fairytales. Not the one where the wolf and Red Riding Hood saunter off arm-in-arm to share scones with Gramma. No, this is the one where the wolf gobbles up grams and the little red-caped wonder, and then gets his belly chopped open by an enthusiastic woodsman.

I’m not talking about happily ever after. I’m talking about move you, grip you, and make you think about it as you’re falling asleep that night.

I give it 5 &’s…

&… the computer animation/graphics/whatever were wonderful

&…. The fairytale was spellbinding

&…. The WWII plot was skillfully woven right into it

&… the acting of everyone was pretty damn wonderful

&… that Eyeball Guy... he was like something out of Stephen King’s personal nightmare closet.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Eragon Book AND Movie Review

Eragon (the Book)

By Christopher Paolini

Published by Knopf Books for young readers

544 pages

Eragon (the Movie)

Directed by: Stefen Fangmeier

Starring: Edward Speleers, Jeremy Irons, Sienna Guillory

Rated PG for fantasy violence, intense battle sequences and some frightening images

104 minutes

I will just start out on a positive note, letting ya’all know with no uncertainty whatsoever that Eragon is a dang good book. If you are a Reader like me (note the capital, it means something… and if you don’t know what it means, then don’t worry, you’re not one.) then you will find yourself satisfied by this big hunk o’ book. The cover shows a dragon out of every fantasy-lover’s dreams, silvery-blue scales and huge eye gleaming, but not unkindly. ( I always liked that backwards-sounding phrase that is in use so freely…. I mean think about it, doesn’t it sound like it has too many words… “he smiled, but not unkindly.” Seems like it should just say, “He smiled kindly”. But hey that’s me, and just one example of the bizarreness my mind will travel to when it’s left on its own for too long. I better get back to it) The story, of a young farm boy who goes hunting in the creepy woods called The Spine, and finds an unusual stone that later hatches, will warm the cockles of any fantasy-lover’s heart.

And, not to go off-track again here, but what in the HELL are cockles, anyway? It makes me think of those little spiny prickly balls that stick to the cuffs of your pants while you’re walking through fields, and I don’t normally associate small, spiny annoyances with my heart, but in this case, I’m forced to. So if anyone knows what a real “cockle”, of the heart type, is, feel free to let us all know. We’re on tenterhooks. And if you know what a tenterhook is, you get bonus points.

Ok back to the story. Eragon, who is not the dragon, but the boy, finds this big blue rock. He seems to forget pretty quickly that he found the blue rock during an unusual lightning-crack explosion that scorched the woods around him. The few little discrepancies such as this that are found in the book are easily forgiven once the reader discovers that the author was fifteen when he penned the tale.

Yes the rock hatches, and here’s your big surprise of the day, it is a dragon that crawls out, not a chicken. A female dragon, to be precise, of the blue variety. Her name is Saphira, and fairly quickly we learn that she has chosen to hatch for Eragon, and with this hatching and choosing, a new legend has come to life…. The Dragon Riders are reborn! Prophesies are being fulfilled, and Eragon and Saphira set off on major adventures with Brom, his guide and mentor, who is the crusty old storyteller from the village.. or is he?

I’m not telling any more of the story because if you haven’t read it, you’ll want to find out all the good stuff on your own. And if you have read it, you already know. And if you don’t want to read it, screw you. Haaa! Just KIDDING. But the point is, no more spoilers.

The movie, you see, had enough spoilage for anyone. And by spoilage, I don’t mean the give-away-surprises kind. I mean the stinky, rotten, hold your nose kind. Again I went against all of training as a reviewer and did not prepare myself for this movie-going experience with other reviews beforehand. Make not my mistakes, children! Always read the reviews before you waste that eight dollars on a ticket to a movie that won’t even let you enjoy your popcorn sprinkled with white cheddar.

An example of a damn good fantasy book turned into a damn good fantasy movie is Lord of the Rings. An example of a damn good fantasy book turned into a just-another Disney movie with big flashy CG scenes and very little to do with the actual, you know, story… is Eragon. As far as Eragon Le Movie is concerned, well, “Le Pyew”, I would say, if I was a cartoon character, which I am not, contrary to popular belief.

It is fine movie if it’s not supposed to bear much resemblance to the book. It’s a fine movie to take your ten year old son to, he who has not read the book. It’s a fine movie if your idea of a good movie is dragons talking in a too-wise voice in Eragon’s head, him acting like a spoiled little baby until suddenly he becomes this warrior dude, like in a split second. It’s fine if you don’t mind the huge leaps and gaps in the storyline, filled in with action sequences such as Saphira flying speedily through a canyon, and the walls are racing past at a rate fast enough to make you dizzy. It’s fine if you don’t mind that the makers of the movie decide to totally create a googly- eyed, almost-love story between eragon and the Elf Princess, when in the book, she barely acknowledges his presence and is totally disgusted by his fumbling, little boy crush. She’s like, a hundred years old, and he is like a teenage human, with all the wisdom and maturity that goes along with that. Snort. That was the part I disliked the most. The wise and noble Elf Princess making eyes back at the stuttering, goofy, farmboy.


So, fellow Readers, enjoy the book and skip the movie. Movie-goers, enjoy the movie but don’t expect a life-changing experience. It aint no LOTR, peeps, but the book can hold its own.

I give the book an orange on the Reading Rainbow

I give the movie 2 &s….

& it had good graphics, or animation, or whatever you wanna call it

& it had a couple of pretty good fight scenes and we all know I’m all about that.

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