Thursday, January 21, 2010


Saw Avatar last night with my Dad and Uncle Ron. Great film, like everyone has been saying. I really think this is the first time that you can believe all the CG is fully real. I only caught a couple places where there was a CG quirk... usually involving the live action guys inside the CG battle mechs.

The story isn't anything amazing, mostly a collection of classic story telling ideas rolled into a bewilderingly beautiful canvas. "Dances with Wolves in space" is what I've heard repeated. Thing is James Cameron still makes the telling of the story incredibly entertaining even if at no point are you surprised by what happens next. Which honestly is the makings of a film that can be watched over and over again.

The acting shines through the blue cat CG masks. I particularly like Zoe Saldana's job as the Pocahontas princess of the cat people. Zoe Saldana also played Uhura in J. J. Abrams' Star Trek film from last year. So she seems to know where good films are being made.

Sam Worthington's performance as our jarhead turned native was outstanding as well. Funny enough my brain keeps wanting to compare his job to the guy playing the lead in the G.I. Joe movie from last year. I know that's not a fair comparison to the old Joe, but the difference is so starkly defined that it makes for good contrast. In Joe the jughead has so much trouble delivering his lines that you can't help but wonder if they're holding cue cards up for him, while in Avatar it all seems natural even when coming from the lips of a blue cat.

Again, great film. No, I didn't see it in 3D... but I may go again just for that experience. Figured it best to enjoy it one time through before risking throwing up all over the place. My experience with 3D to date has been hit or miss. Not nauseating yet, but fraught with calamity, i.e., broken glasses.

It was great to get back to the theater... I miss going to the movies.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Strata by Terry Pratchett

Strata Strata by Terry Pratchett

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

What I learned from this book is... that even an author you love and think is a literary genius started from humbler beginnings. I've been devouring Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels faster than any other series to date. That even includes the Harry Potter books which I devoured rather quickly. So as a scholarly pursuit, I decided to read one of his pre-discworld novels.

Strata is a pure science fiction novel, which I've come to discover I don't have much taste for. The whole travel to some strange place for the purpose of describing a strange place doesn't always enthrall me. Strata has a similar taste for me, but the wit and humor of Pratchett still peaks through.

This book isn't as silly, but it was fun to see how some of the ideas in this book were used in the creation of the Discworld. This book tries to describe in science fiction terms of advanced technology how a flat world could work... the Discworld skates around such frivolities by having "magic" to take care of them. While in Strata you think about how a system could work with vast machines and the meaning of it all... when the Discworld comes on to the scene riding on the back of the World Turtle you just take the details and grand meaning for granted.

So, to sum up... I like the Discworld better than the flat Earth of Strata... BUT, the ending of Strata is a hoot. The ending was a great payoff for finally finishing. It made me smile and that's what it's all about after all.

View all my reviews >>