Saturday, March 29, 2014

Noah: Movie Review

Noah, starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, and Emma Watson, starts out with lots of action.  Like the story from Genesis, Noah gets divine visions from God that warn him of the upcoming flood.  It's not God who he seeks for answers, but his grandfather, Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins).  Methuselah is the man who lived the longest in the Bible.  Methuselah's father, Noah's great-grandfather, was Enoch.  Methuselah spells it out for Noah on what he is supposed to do. 

A forest of trees magically grows by Noah's home.  He has "Watchers" to help him prepare the ark.  These "Watchers" are different than the ones mentioned in Enoch.  They are angels, but encrusted in rock and gigantic in size.  Most of these "Watchers" choose to live with the rest of the world and partake in evil doings.  Noah's "Watchers" seek God's redemption.
Once Noah begins building the ark, the animals slowly find their way and take up residence in their stalls.  The nearby townspeople threaten Noah, but his "Watchers" protect him.  Noah's sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, want wives to bring on the ark once the rain begins.  Shem is very interested in Emma Watson's character, an orphaned girl that Noah and his wife raised for over a decade.  The only problem is that Emma Watson's character is barren and she wants Shem to have a wife who can give him a baby.  Methuselah, who has supernatural powers, fixes this problem.  Ham also has a love interest, but Noah puts the kibosh on the potential marriage.  Japheth has no one.
Once the rain begins to fall, they high-tail it to the ark.  The townspeople also want in.  Again, the "Watchers" protect Noah and his family.  As they rid the angry townspeople, they burst out of their earth-rock bodies and beam up to Heaven.

Life on the boat gets to Noah and the whole family.  Ham finds the town leader, Tubal-Cain, on board as a stowaway.  Instead of going to his father, he feeds the man and plots to kill Noah because he is still furious about the potential wife Noah left behind.  Shem gets Emma Watson's character pregnant and Noah promises to kill the child.  At the end of the movie he almost kills her twin daughters, but has a change of heart.  They find land, but Noah and his wife separate.  He becomes an old drunk and then Ham leaves the whole family to go his separate way.  Eventually, Noah and his wife reunite.  They live "happily ever after" with his two sons, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren.
My Review:
Wow, where do I start...Watchers and nephilim are my thing.  I wrote two novels (Halo of the Damned and Halo of the Nephilim) based off of Enoch and the Great Deluge.  The "Watchers" were inaccurately portrayed in this movie.  I liked the mystique of Methuselah, but do not recall his character in the Bible story.  Perhaps it was in another writing.  Mathematically speaking, he could have been around before the Flood.  There is no mention of Shem's wife having twin daughters on the ark, let alone Noah attempting to kill them off.  I was taken aback and a little offended when the director turned Noah into the bad guy.  I read in other writings that Ham left his family.  Some believe he went to what is now called Germany.  All in all, the movie was entertaining.  My biggest problem is the accuracy.  I am not sure why the story was heavily altered.  For instance, there is never any mention of Tubal-Cain being a stowaway on the ark.  So why drift so far from the written word?  As a Christian, I'm looking for a retelling of the Bible with some dramatic license and other theories/writings thrown in.  On the other hand, if extra drama gets people interested in the Bible, then bravo to Director Darren Aronofsky.  Russell Crowe was great as was the entire cast.  The special effects were spectacular.   4/5 Stars

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Game of Thrones Alert: Merchandisers Making Fortunes

George R.R. Martin/Game of Thrones empire has expanded on a colossal level.  Like the great George Lucas (Star Wars), Martin and HBO are cashing in.  One of their new products is high quality beer.  Ommegang, located in Cooperstown, New York, has created a series of beer based off the dragons in the runaway HBO show.  The owner claims that George R.R. Martin is a big fan of the brewery.  Fire and Blood, as the beer is called, is taken from House Targaryen.  The beers come in three different labels named after Danerys's dragons-Drogon, Rhaegal, and Viscerion.  Ancho chiles and rye are key ingredients to the ale.
You can use these to play Drinking Game of Thrones!

Game of Thrones Pop!
Figurines of the most popular characters are available!  Can you tell who is who?  You can re-enact your favorite scenes or use for a collectible.  Adorable!

And of course there is a video game of how to play the Game of Thrones...
I'm not a gamer, but this looks really fun.  The plot of the video game is different than the series and books, but keeps some of the characters and the setting involved in the mission of the player.
I haven't purchased any of these products, but did treat myself to a coaster set that has all of the catchy sayings that the characters say.  It was inexpensive and serves as a great conversation starter when company is over.  More Game of Thrones blogging to come!  So happy that 'winter is almost here!'


Thursday, March 13, 2014

TV Review: Believe

Believe, NBC's new paranormal thriller, aired last Monday at 9pm Central.  The show starts with an edge-of-your-seat action sequence of two different story lines. 

The first plot begins with foster parents of a little girl (Bo) driving down the road.  A car slams into them.  The parents almost expect it, as if they know people are after the girl.  The car flips over from the other driver banging into their car.  The foster mother and daughter crawl out of the car, but the foster father stays, trapped inside.  A woman checks to see if he is still alive and then snaps his neck.  The killer quickly finds the mother and girl and then kills the mother.  She almost kidnaps the girl, but is forced to pretend that she is a good Samaritan as others and an ambulance are gathered at the scene.  
The girl, Bo, is taken to the hospital by the ambulance.  Once she is admitted, the audience soon learns she has supernatural powers.  She causes a power outage while in a MRI machine and then tells one of the doctors about a future patient he will save.

The second story line is about a prisoner who has a priest for a visitor.  He thinks the priest wants to save him but quickly learns that the priest is there to help him escape.  There are strings attached.  The prisoner is forced into stealing the little girl out of the hospital. 
As the two stories merge, more action takes place.  Two separate groups of people, one representing good and one representing evil, need the girl for their agenda.  At the very end of the show the audience learns the connection between the prisoner and girl (Bo).  He is her biological father.  I really liked everything about this show.  Great story, acting, action, and special effects.  I hope the rush continues. Leave a comment.  Curious to what you think! 5/5 Stars

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Review: Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

Just finished the throne-master's 5th installment of power.  Oh yes, winter is coming!  Dance with Dragons was filled with my favorite characters.  George never fails on coming up with original story lines.  Words are wind!  I can't wait until the HBO series comes out.  Very curious on how they will fuse the 4th and 5th book together for film.  Fans, you won't find out in this book who wins the game of thrones.  As usual, he leaves us all hanging.  Here are some of the storylines that I enjoyed.

Danerys-Queen of the freed slaves is also Queen of Mereen.  She is in love with her captain, Daharis, but marries Hizdahr to enable a peace treaty.  Her dragons have grown into monsters.  One of them is loose and burning people to death.  The other two are caged in a pit inside of the pyramid/castle of the city.  The chains aren't holding up from their fire. 
The day after her wedding, Danerys attends a show that involves death fights.  Her dragon swoops in and ruins the event.  The show involves all kinds of perspectives, including Tyrion's, but when seen through her eyes it suggests that she is tired of her "children"/dragons running amok.  She tries to discipline the monster with a whip which kind of works.  She mounts him like a horse and he flies away.  Everyone thinks she is dead, but she lives on an island with her dragon.  At the end of the book a tribe of Dothraki find her chowing down on a horse with her dragon.
After Danerys marries Hizdahr, another man comes into her life, the prince of Dorne.  He wants to marry her and he, too, has ancestors from the Targaryen family.  She rejects him but he doesn't leave the city.  He refuses to believe that she is dead and then sets her dragons free, believing he can control them.  He ends up dead, but now there are three dragons on the loose.
After Danerys leaves Mereen, her faithful servant, Ser Barristan (the guy Joffrey kicked out of the kingsguard back in season 1 or 2), investigates.  He suspects her husband was trying to kill her with honeyed-locusts.  The dragon ruined his plan.

Tyrion-He snuck his way out of King's Landing after killing his father, Tywin Lannister.  He was helped by the bad eunuch, Visrys.  He embarks upon a trip to Dorne with another captive, Danerys's little brother who everyone thought had been murdered.  Tyrion's original travel companions die or get lost after a storm and he winds up in chains under Sir Jorah Mormont's supervision.  He and another dwarf are now part of a circus, headed for Mereen to entertain the lords.  He and the other dwarf entertain Queen Danerys and the city at the fight.  Sir Jorah is also part of the act.  Their lord, a rich man from Mereen, tries to kill them with a man-eating lion, but again the dragon scene ruins the plan.

Reek/Theon-This is my favorite story line.  Theon was never one of my favorite characters but in this book he shines!  The Bastard of Bolton AKA Lord Ramsay takes Theon for a pet and tortures him nonstop.  The man psychologically looses his identity and takes on a new persona, the persona given to him by his master.  He is now Reek, the timid meek battered-wife syndrome PSTD prisoner who has forgotten most of his past.  He is made to live in a hole and eat rats. He is not allowed to bathe and often flayed for the entertainment of Lord Ramsay.  One day he is actually needed to play himself, Theon Greyjoy.  Lord Ramsay wants Winterfell so he marrys "Arya" Stark who of course is someone else.  He needs Reek/Theon to vouch for him and vouch for the girl's identity.  A big wedding is held at Winterfell and Theon, through plots and schemes of others, gets free.  This story reminds me of a Dracula-Renfield relationship.

Circe-She had a much bigger story line in the 4th book, but nonetheless, George doesn't leave us hanging on her imprisonment of the septas.  For punishment she is made to walk across King's Landing naked.  Her head and beaver are shaved.  Townspeople throw things at her and make fun.  She does live, but will never have any respect as queen.  Her Uncle Kevan, the hand and king regent, is murdered by Visyrs, the bald eunuch.  Before Kevan Lannister dies, Visyrs tells him he is doing it for the Realm and Circe will of course blame the Tyrells.  Love the Machiavellian tactics!

My Review:  There are so many new characters and new places.  The maps inside of the book were not helpful.  I couldn't find Meereen or Slaver's Bay.  The story has several moments of greatness, but too many pages in between.  This book has been the most difficult of the series for me to read.  The plot keeps getting bigger and bigger, reading much like a history book at times.  The characters' family trees have centuries of back stories that could have easily been condensed.  Personally, this story could be even more brilliant if 300-400 pages were edited out of it.  In the end, I love it.  For all of Martin's faults, it's the unique and revolutionary story that keeps me coming back for more.  His jaded themes of religion and politics resonate with me.  And love, well it's just a means to an end in this series.  The only halfway decent, moral character was Ned Stark.  Look what happened to him!  Nice guys finish last!  I will buy and read the next book and the book after that and the book after that-I'm hooked.  4/5 stars

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Movie Review: Monument Men

On the eve of the Academy Awards I chose to see a movie for the sake of seeing a movie, bypassing all of the politically correct crapola that was available.  I've seen some of the nominated movies-American Hustle, Captain Phillips, and Wolf of Wall Street-all good.  Wolf was the only one that's "great" and that's a stretch.  I might catch the rest of them on cable if the mood strikes.  
Monument Men covered two subjects that fascinate me-World War II and art.  The movie was based on a true story about a small group of men who were sent by commissioned by FDR to find stolen art from the Nazis while protecting the art that was yet to be stolen.  The stakes were raised once finding Hitler's "Nero Decree" that promised to destroy all stolen art along with much of Europe's infrastructure in the event Germany lost the war. 
George Clooney played Stokes, the leader of this rag-tag bunch of army men.  He recruited six others to help him, all former military men who worked in some kind of artistic field.  John Goodman, Cate Blanchett, Matt Damen, and Bill Murray were some of the big names in the cast.

The story was relatively simple.  The men were not highly respected or supported by the other soldiers they camped with.  Most soldiers believed art wasn't worth lives.  Clooney's character argued that art was a primary example of freedom, the very ideal the U.S. was fighting for.  Eventually they caught a break when one of the men figured out that the Nazis took trucks of art to cities with mines.

Blanchett played a curator at one of the museums in France.  She did not trust the Allies or anyone.  As each piece of art "disappeared" in the museaum, she meticulously logged it into her ledger.  Once the Americans found a mine full of art and gave it back, she realized they weren't keeping it for themselves.  She gave them the locations for much of the art.
While tracking down paintings and scupltures two of the men were shot down, one Frenchman who made the mistake of taking a smoke break on a battlefield and another Englishman who tried to protect Michelango's Madonna of Bruges sculpture and the Ghent Altarpiece.  These pieces inspired the men to track down the art.  In the end, they find much of the stolen art in the mines and a castle.  The Nazis burned several paintings once Germany surrendered.

My Opinion: I really liked the movie.  I was surprised how it was panned by so many critics.  George Clooney wrote a wonderful screenplay.  This is another piece of World War II that I never knew about.  The acting was solid and the story was interesting mostly because it was true.  4/5 Stars

The Bifurcation of Dungsten Crease

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