Bookit #20: Outlander

Title: Outlander (Part 1 of the Outlander Series)
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Publication:  2004 (ebook) 1991 (original Publication)
Medium:  Kindle eBook
Grade: A

NOTE:  Some minor spoilers for the TV show and a trigger warning for rape.
Many months ago a good friend of mine told me I should read Outlander. It did in fact seem right up my ally as far as books I like to read (History, science fiction, mystery and romance), but I kept pushing it off.  But I finally watched the first season of Outlander last month and decided to read the book.

Usually I read the book first, then watch the TV show/Movie based on it.  However, this time I did not.  It did allow me to appreciate some of the narrative changes the TV writers made.  The show is relatively close to the events of the book up till the last few episodes, although they expand on things in some places and leave out others.

I am not a big fan of first person, as Outlander is (from Claire’s POV).  There are some exceptions though (such as the Hunger Games) and Outlander has ended up being one of them despite the fact that I wish some of it was in Jamie’s pov.  The story is about Claire Beachamp-Randall, a combat nurse from WWII.  She’s visiting Scotland with her husband in an effort to reconnect after the war when she is accidentally whisked from her time (1945) to another (1743).  She finds it difficult to adjust to live 202 years before what she knew, and it causes a few adventures.

Writing wise, it’s not the best novel I ever read, but it kept me interested.  As I said, some of the narrative changes in the early episodes of the show made sense to fill in some of the gaps in the book.  It smoothed things out as it were,  However, later changes made less sense.

I’m also not sure how historically accurate this book is, but it kept me interested enough that I didn’t really need to know – though I did look some of the outside characters like the Duke of Sandringham (Not a real guy) and Lord Lovat, Jamie’s Grandfather (actually a real guy).  A lot of the characters are interesting, even if they are fairly minor.   Black Jack Randall is creepy in all his scenes (which makes me feel sorry for his great-great so forth grandson Frank), and Dougal I can’t get a hold on whether he is someone I shouldn’t mind or someone I should place in the enemy column (Both in the TV show and the book.  More so the TV series).

I know that the next book takes place in France but I will miss the lovely characters of Castle Leoch and the Scottish Highlands.

My only real issue with the book is that rape is used a bit too often as a cause for drama.  Some of it makes sense with the characters used (mainly Black Jack Randall) but other times it just seems repative and even more uncomfortable it is by default.

I am glad my friend convinced me to read this, and I’m looking forward to reviewing Dragonfly in Amber (book 2) soon.  I feel this is also a book that once I finish the series I’ll be back to re-read and connect some of the dots I missed the first time around.

As a final note, the book is not nearly as R rated as the TV-show (since it is on STARZ) ended up being.  There is a lot more fade to black.  Still, it is an adult romance novel, so I would probably not let your younger kids read it yet.

Movie Review: Thor Ragnorak

Title: Thor Ragnorak/ Thor 3
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action/Adventure, Comedy, Superhero
Release Date: November 3, 2017
Director: Taika Waititi
Cast: Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett, Tessa Thompson, Idris Elba, Karl Urban, Mark Ruffalo, Jeff Goldblum,

Once again I’m here reviewing a Marvel film.   Thor Ragnorak was available through Netflix so I happily choose to watch it.  I love the Thor series of films.  For those of you who follow my twitter account or know me outside of WordPress, you’ll know that Loki is one of my favorite Marvel characters.  Jeff Goldblum is also a draw for this movie because he’s from my hometown and is awesome in his own right. Continue reading “Movie Review: Thor Ragnorak”

Movie Review: Deadpool 2

Title: Deadpool 2
Rating: R
Genre: Action/Adventure, Superhero, Comedy
Release Date: May 18, 2018
Director: David Leitch
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Josh Brolin, Julian Dennison, Zazie Beetz, TJ Miller, Stefan Kapicic, Brianna Hildebrand, Morena Baccarin

I was able to see Deadpool 2 in theaters a week or so ago,  My friends and I try to see the Marvel movies in the theater, although I can’t say I’m up to date on them.  However, I did manage Deadpool 2, so I’m able to review it for the blog this week.

Deadpool 2, as you probably know, is not for kids.  Lots of violence, langauge and sexual humor.  This movie also has an undercurrent of suicide and depression.  That being said, it also was very funny.  Lots of outside references, and you can tell the cast had a blast putting this film together.  The references to the comics are good, although I admit I had to look to my comic-fan friends to explain a few.

The music editing in the film is excellent.  I loved the ode to James Bond in the opening credits to Celine Dion’s song Ashes which also happens to be an awesome song.  The rest of the movie also has really good music-to-film sequences.

My grade for this movie is a B,   The cast did a great job, and it was hilarious.  I felt there were some points of the plot that didn’t quite fit, and I felt I was missing something for not being a comic book fan.  I do not recommend this as a family movie.  You have to be okay with a certian level of violence and humor, and like the first movie, you can probably watch the trailer and already see that its not for kids.  Some adults as well.

This movie also has some awesome cameos.  I won’t mention who as that would spoil the surprise.

Remakes & Reboots and Film Fatigue

Yesterday I stumbled upon the reality that the movie Overboard is being remade.  Now, I was never a huge fan of the film, it was okay and I’d watch it if it happened to be on.  I have friends who are much bigger fans.  But I always figured it was one of those movies that had been left alone.  Till Yesterday.

It made me wonder at what point does a movie get to ‘remakable’ status?  Is there a time limit?  A quality level?  Perhaps nothing at all (and I’m starting to think this is the reality.)

They made the first Spiderman movie with Toby McGuire in it in 2002.  Since then, they have made 2 sequels, rebooted it, made a sequel to that one and rebooted it again.  All in 16 years.  At least with the latest guy, its because the ownership changed hands therefore contracts were different.

But seriously.  16 years, 6 movies (8 if you include Captian America: Civil War and the upcoming Avengers movie), 3 actors.  That is roughly a new Spiderman movie every 2-3 years and only a few are actually connected to each other.  Toby McQuire came out with one in 2002. 2004, and 2007.  Andrew Garfield got 2012 and 2014.  Tom Holland got 2017 (with 2016 (CA:CW) and 2018 (Avengers: Infinty Wars) as honorable mentions).

Seems a lot.  (Although I wish Tom Holland luck with the role.  He seems like a sweetheart.)

It makes the Star Trek reboot look like they took way too long (almost 50 years).

Of course there is Star Wars, creatively sourced as a continuation rather than a reboot.  They are using the same basic plots so I find the last series to be generally less impressive than the other two (yes, I’m a freak who loves the Prequels.  Not as much as the original trilogy, but I do love them).  I don’t want to watch The Original Trilogy with Anakin 2.0

The Mummy was recently remade, though I did not see this version due to an aversion of all things Tom Cruise.  Plus the Brendan Fraser Trio was a big part of my middle school years.  I don’t want to ruin them with whatever this new one is.  Which doesn’t appear to be anything like the 1932 original, or the Fraser 1999 remake.  So I’m not sure if it’s so much a remake as its “Hey, we got the rights to this film franchise and a budget, want to film?” type deal.

There are times I adore remakes.  It just seems that recently the board has been pretty flooded with remakes and reboots and sequels. And some of them run pretty close together.  I can understand a remake/reboot if enough time as passed (King Kong, Godzilla and Star Trek for example).  Book adaptations happen all time (Look up the many many many versions of Pride and Prejudice.  I did once.  I think there were thirty some at the time).  I just don’t get why I’m getting remakes/reboots of films that have been released since I was in high school.  Sure, its been over a decade but barely and still within memory.

At the very least a decade should be the minimum amount of time unless the movie was awful (ex. The Incredible Hulk movies.  We don’t talk about the Incredible Hulk movies).

I remember reading somewhere that someone had boiled down the general narratives of the world to about 6 storylines.  And that everything basically followed one of them.  But there are a million ways to be creative with a prompt.  Just look at any writing group and ask them their responses to a prompt.  You are bound to get a bunch of variety even with the same building blocks.

So I don’t think its a hard task to find something out there that is creative, even if its something old.  At least something not made in the last decade.  At the rate we are going, The day I turn 40, Harry Potter will be releasing its remake of A Deathly Hallows.

That being said…I’m probably going to be watching the new Overboard.  If only because the fact they genderswapped it sounds intriguing.

I believe I wrote about this before, but it was just a recent rant in my mind that needed to come out.  What are your thoughts on the matter?

Scarlet O’Hara (Bubblews Repost)

Vivien Leigh in Gone With the Wind trailer-9

EDIT NOTES:  This post was made several years ago on Bubblews, a site that is no longer online.  I found it while cleaning out some folders on my google drive, and decided to repost it, with some minor grammatical corrections.  According to my file, I wrote this on October 9, 2014, 11:55 AM.  I plan on eventually reading the novel, and rewatching the movie to see if my views still hold true. Also this post doesn’t focus on GWTW portrayal of slavery, which is at times very awkward because of its avoidance of the reality.  This just focuses on their main plot around Scarlet.

On Sunday, I saw Gone With the Wind in Theaters.  It was a great experience, although I hate to tell the movie people that 5 minutes is not enough to allow people to get to the bathroom and/or go to the concession stand to refill their drinks.  Should have been fifteen, but that is not the point of this post. Continue reading “Scarlet O’Hara (Bubblews Repost)”

Robin Hood & History

One of my favorite movies growing up was Robin Hood.  It was the Disney version, the one with the Animal kingdom playing out the roles.  According to the story, Robin Hood (a fox) stole from the rich and gave to the poor because Prince John (a Lion, sans mane) was overtaxing the population of Nottinghamshire while ruling for his brother King Richard (a Lion, with a mane).  It’s the basic story behind most Robin Hood movies.

The interesting thing about Robin Hood is it’s both fiction and non-fiction.  It’s a mix of characters who are fictional and characters who were based on real people.  As I grew up, and started to be interested in the back story I found out that some of the stories are more interesting outside the myth.

For example, Prince John.  In Disney’s version of the tale, he’s a laughable villain.  He sucks his thumb and cries for Mommy and is made fun of for that fact.  He’s not even depicted as a fully grown lion, and his crown doesn’t fit his head.  His assistant, Sir HIss, puts up with a lot of abuse in the sake of comedy and somehow remains sane enough to advise his King to make better life decisions.

In reality, Prince John was an actual King, and one fairly important to history.  He was born in 1166, the younger brother of Richard I, or Richard the lion-hearted.  So in that, Robin Hood gets it right.  Richard left for the crusades, and the then Prince John ruled as regent in his stead.  He became King himself in 1199, and ruled for 17 years till his death in 1216.

John was born the sixth son of King Henry II. He was one of 10 children, and a member of the House of Plantagenet.  He is the third of Henry’s sons to be King.  The eldest was Henry, who became co-regent with his father at least in name if not in power. He died in 1183, outlived by his father.  After Henry the II died six years later, RIchard the I became King.  He is known most for being a part of the Crusades, which took up much of his reign.

John himself was regent, although not particularly because RIchard wanted him too.  So in a sense, the movie had that right too.

However, the movie ends with Richard coming back, and reclaiming the throne and punishing his brother.  However, Richard died after only 10 years on the throne, and with no heirs, it left John and his nephew Arthur.

John, being ambitious as history (and Disney) show became King. He became an important part of history because his son Henry III would be the first Plantagenet King and that would lead to the war of the Roses 300 years later.  He also changed English politics forever with the signing of the Magna Carta, which not only started the government transitioning into his modern form, it is also a major influence on the designers of the American Government that would develop 600 years later.  He was also known for taking a more personal involvement in the administration of the country, some positive some negative.  Some of which influenced the portrayal of Prince John the villain.  For example the over taxation occurred during his reign as King.

With the kings of England in the middle ages, its hard to know what was accurate and what was propaganda from a rival.  For example, many people get their idea of these kings from William Shakespeare’s plays (which have inaccuracies and were obviously tailored to suit his Queen) or other items of fiction.  King/Prince John is certainly not the only world leader to have that happen to him.  HIs great-great-grandson (etc)  Richard III was certianly given a reputation by literature and the Tudors.

It just brings me to my younger self who thought the story ended with that “no-good Prince John” being punished for his maltreatment of Nottingham. It was really only half the story and I’m glad I learned to love history and delve deeper into the world Robin Hood is based in.

One day I may go into more research and in-depth about King John.  For now, I’m going to go watch Robin Hood and tell Sir Hiss to get a new job.

Movie Review: Anna Karenina

Title: Anna Karenina
Release Date: 2012
Rating:
Staring:  Keira Knightley, Jude Law, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Kelly MacDonald, Domhall Gleensen, Alicia Vikander, and Matthew Macfadyen

My Rating C.

My Review:

Alright, I knew going in that this was going to be a weird movie.  Its Tolstoy.  The man doesn’t do simple happy ever afters.  I’m not entirely sure he does happily ever afters at all.  Plus I had read a few bits of the book before watching the movie.  I’m determined to go back and actually read the whole thing.  If I can read Game of Thrones, which is 900 pages long, I think I can stretch a little further and read Anna Karenina.

Anyway, why did I give this film a C.  Well, the casting was full of people I like (Matthew MacDadyen, Alicia Vikander, and Kiera Knightly especially), so I can’t complain about the acting.  The costuming was excellant No, I just thought the staging was weird.

And by staging I mean the whole movie is built like its the mutant child of a stage play and a film.  Sometimes you feel like you have the full screen depth of a movie, and sometimes you felt like you were watching a recording of a play.  Which I suppose could be seen as an inventive way of making this all out to be some theme about how society is play on image.

It just threw me off really.  I think if they had started it that way, and perhaps ended it that way it would have been sufficent, but they kept routing it through the whole movie.

Also I found I cared very little for Anna and Vronksky,  Wishing there was more of Stiva and his family, or Levin & Kitty more then there was Anna.  I’m not sure how much of that is because of the source material or the script itself.

Movie Review: Pride & Prejudice & Zombies

Title:  Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (2016)
Rating: PG-13

My Rating:  ….Ambigious.

You see,this movie is both bad, and good.  Its got some great chemistry between actors, and some of the alterations of characters due to the circumstances are really interesting.  It also has the occasionally good line.  I adore Matt Smith’s Collins, and Lena Hedly’s Lady Catherine makes you less likely to dispise the woman.  Charles Dance plays Mr. Bennet.  I knew Lily James as Ella, from the Live-Action Cinderella but didn’t realise she was Elizabeth untill I read the credits.  It also has some faces I’m unfamilar with like Sam Rielly and the rest of the cast I haven’t already mentioned.  I will say while his Darcy isn’t what I usually picture Darcy being, it fits within the scope of this film and he and Lily James work well off of one another.  It also gives some of the characters usually passed over in the original novel (Namely Mary Bennet) a chance to be shown a little more.

On the other hand some of the dialogue is very very cheesey and at times awkward (Example:  When Darcy, watching Elizabeth kick Zombie ass, realises that she’s not that bad looking after all, and starts explaining this to Bingley whose basically “Dude, Zombies.”). It also brings the hard question – If women are being trained for battle, why is it so off set with the sexism of the day?  Shouldn’t it have changed some of it?  Some of the interjection of the original material by Austen is a bit awkward.

So its hard to grade this movie.  I will say I enjoyed it, and I’ll probably purchase it eventually.  It really doesn’t make me want to read the novel (The one the film was based on, not the original P&P, which I have read).However, its the type of Zombie movie I enjoy.  The kind where there is a mix of genre (Action & Adventure, but also comedy and a touch of romance) and there are some surprising twists.

Book Review: Fantastic Four (Movie Novelization, Peter David)

Title: Fantastic Four
Author: Peter David (Based on Screenplay by Mark Frost, Simon Kinberg, and Michael France, who were inspired by Marvel)
Genre: Action/Adventure, Movie Novelization, some romance
Summery: Reed Richards, Victor Von Doom, Ben Grimm, and the Storm siblings go up in space to hold experiments with a cosmic cloud.  Things don’t go as planed, and the crew is hit by the cloud instead of being protected by the stations shielding.  Suddenly Reed can stretch his arms further then natural, Susan can be invisible, Johnny can turn into fire, and Ben has transformed into a man made out of rock.  Victor seems unharmed, but slowly he is transforming into a metal alloy, which turns to to be a bad combination with his mood.

Yeah, bad summery.  You can probably get the gist if you watch a cartoon, or read the comic.  I tend to stick to the film when it comes to Marvel stuff.  And I should probably mention that there are slight spoilers here if you are a Fantastic Four newbie.

I have read Peter David novels in the past.  He wrote one of my favorite Star Trek novels, Imzadi.  That was slightly different then this, as Imazdi was based within that universe while Fantastic Four is based directly on a script. I bought this after watching the movie so I already had the characters set in my head as the actors.  I liked it the first time through.  I decided to re-read it for this year’s bookit 50, and liked it again.

There was one issue I had with this book this time through.  Since the second movie hadn’t been out before I read the first movie’s novelization it didn’t phase me the first time, and I don’t think I even realized it till this time reading it.  The novel has a Frankie Raye, which if you have seen the second film you know she’s a character in that film.  One quite different then the one in this novelization. Although this does give me ideas for a fanfic where they ARE the same person (I doubt they are.  I just think it was a matter of Peter David doing his homework and the writers of movie II not taking his novelization into account when they wrote it.  Movie trumps book in this case)

Like with Willow, this book had some scenes that never made it to film or were cut during the final edit (and there are a few in the deleted scenes on the DVD).  Some scenes were completely different.  Like the scene where Reed and Susan talk about their relationship?  Happens in a different location then in the movie.

I enjoyed it. Its a good novelization.

Rating: 4/5
Bookit # (2/50) of (1/52)