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Posts Tagged ‘Magic’

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
  —  Arthur C. Clarke
Transformers: The Last Knight  —  movie review
T:TLK (2017) is another push by Hasbro to sell its action figures to kids using mass-media marketing i.e. a Sci-Fi / Special Effects extravaganza.  This episode is the fifth in the series.  The movie has Mark Wahlberg in a T:4 role reprisal as Cade Yeager,  Anthony Hopkins is introduced as Yoda, I mean as Sir Edmund Burton – the last in a line of knights from the Round Table, Josh Duhamel (who has appeared in all of the “T” movies) again as Lt. Col. Lennox,  Laura Haddock as Vivian Wembley – the last descendent of Merlin the Magician – and Cade’s new love interest, and Isabela Moner as Izabella – who has no real role in the movie – just a young girl who is supposed to have a flair for fixing machines (like broken “T’s”).  The movie was very poorly reviewed and received: both professionally (15%) and by the general audience (46%).  When more than half of your paying viewers don’t give the movie a good rating, the series is in “it” deep.
So, what did I think?  Actors: I like Wahlberg in the role.  I thought he was decent in T:4 and he is even better in this sequel.  No, he’s not a great actor and, no, this isn’t a great role.  But, I like him in it.  He brings the right amount of comedy, physicality and easy-going charm which suits the role.  I would add, though, that Mark is starting to show his age and really needs to get into some more mature acting roles sooner rather than later.  Hopkins is meant to bring a certain amount of gravitas to the film.  He does, and humor too.  Duhamel has had the same role since the beginning and it’s basically “fit, military looking male of appropriate age”.  He’s been there, done that, and got the T-shirt.  Haddock is basically a Megan Fox (“T1” and “T2”) look-alike without having to pay for Megan.  Having said that, Haddock is better in the role.  Not that the bar was set very high by Fox, but Haddock has a few funny lines and a few disdainful glances which she manages to pull off.  I’ve not seen her in anything else (I haven’t yet looked her up), but again, she was okay.  Moner rounds out the major actors with screen time and, as near as I can tell, is only present to try to convey a “family” theme which runs through all of the prior “T” films.  I guess the writers felt one-way calls between Cade and his daughter (who is away at college), didn’t get the message across enough.  Deep down though, I have a feeling Moner’s role is a shallow attempt to get young female “SMART’s” to buy “T” toys.
Plot: Wow!  So much, so wrong…  It’s hard to know where to begin.  I won’t bother.  The movie doesn’t make sense.  The movie doesn’t really follow prior continuity and doesn’t really have continuity within itself.  Worst of all, the movie tries to squeeze in so much it “feels” long.  I don’t know if there is a much more damming comment you can give an action movie than: “It feels long…”
Special Effects:  Nothing really jumped out at me as “new” or “wow”.  That doesn’t mean the f/x weren’t any good.  They were.  It really is just more of the same.  Chases, explosions, lots of ammunition, folks tossed around, etc; but nobody (human) really gets injured or killed – except for a few of the spare “T’s” in the movie.
Final recommendation:  This is NOT the worst “T” movie.  It is actually quite watchable as long as you are approaching it in the spirit it’s intended: chases, explosions, lots of ammunition, folks tossed around, etc; but nobody (human) really gets injured or killed AND a light sprinkling of humor every 10-15 minutes.  (Okay, someone is gonna say: “What about Hopkins?”  Yes, his character dies, but even that is handled gracefully with a good-bye from his butler.)  If you’ve spent 8+ hours of your life watching the other four “T” movies in this series, another 2+ hours watching this one is probably not going to hurt too bad.  I give it a moderate recommendation based only on watchability and humor.  A final note: this is clearly a lead in to at least one more sequel.  If director Michael Bay doesn’t step up his game and get better writers, hopefully, the next will be the last, cause while this isn’t the worst in the series, it’s not a very good movie – stand-alone or in the series.
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On This Day In:
2016 Rare Competition
2015 Now Where Did I Put That Thing?
2014 Reckoning
Orange October (VIII) – Giants Win Game 1 Of 2014 World Series!!
2013 Trying To Capture Serenity
2012 Above The Vaulted Sky
2011 Active Learning

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Over the Labor Day Weekend, I finished reading the 14th novel in the “Dresden Files” series: “Cold Days“, written by Jim Butcher (2012©).  Now, obviously if you’ve read fourteen books in a series, you’re either getting paid to read them or you “really” enjoy them.  In this case, I enjoy them!
This novel is another in the installment of a good man (in this case a wizard with magic powers – Harry Dresden) with a small band of friends (humans, a werewolf, a vampire, and another wizard) using his powers to save the world (or at least most of the Mid-west of the North American continent).  Dresden lives in modern day Chicago.  All of these books follow a simple formula: hero meets a bad guy the hero cannot possibly defeat, hero somehow survives the encounter, hero muddles through some other bad situations while finding out what’s going on, hero defeats bad guy and in the process finds out more about himself and the over-arching storyline of the series.  (Spoiler Alert: the series is supposed to go on for twenty volumes, so there’s six more to go.  The titles come out approximately one per year and are available in hard bound, paper back and e-read at roughly the same time so the format is whatever you prefer.)
My son James is the person who turned me on to this series.  I noticed he was getting “into” a lot of books about witchcraft and magic, so I asked him what was up.  He started telling me about this series of books he was reading and he was enjoying them so much he was branching out into other areas – folklore, myths, horror stories, etc.  He’s now read Stoker (“Dracula”), Shelly (“Frankenstein”), Dante (“Inferno”), and many other classics  (Homer, etc…).  Although, I’ve never really been “into” this kind of literature (the combination of fantasy with mythology), I asked if I could borrow a couple to see what’s what.  This was about 2005, or so.  The first couple were [sic: was] fascinating because I knew nothing about either the folklore or mythology, nor much about wizardry (as opposed to “sleight-of-hand” magic).  While I still don’t know much “in-depth” about folklore or mythology, I now know a great deal more than I used to.
In my case, I don’t believe reading one title series provides a breadth of knowledge about a genre, merely a taste / sampling.  Also, from my limited exposure, myths are frequently modified to fit the story, so reading any single title series does not necessarily accurately relate a specific myth.   (This was particularly true in the “Percy Jackson” Greek mythology / fantasy series.)
You might ask, “Well, if the books all follow a formula, what’s keeping your interest?”  To tell, the truth, they did start to wear on me after about the sixth or seventh volume, but I took a break and returned to the remaining books with renewed energy.  I found two main interests: the characters (main and supporting, good and evil) are growing with each volume and the over arching storyline is starting to come together (or at least to come out to the main character).  And what do we learn / know?  It’s not our abilities which define us, it is our choices as to what we do with those abilities.  And the story arc?  There is always a struggle between “absolute” evil / chaos and “our” rational and slowly progressing world of understanding.  Both of these are, of course, “Harry Potter” and “Star Wars” themes, and both themes are mentioned in the series.  Well, the Star Wars is.  The Harry Potter theme isn’t directly mentioned, but they (the two story themes) are so closely related they might as well be.  Dresden’s first name: “Harry”.  Duh!!
Anyway, this volume is a fast read like all of the others, and I recommend the series to anyone interested in the Sci-Fi / horror / fantasy genre.  I think they are easily digestible in three to four volumes at a time, then take a week break before starting back.  As I am writing this, I am reminded of the “binge” watching I do (on some holidays) of some TV series.  I think there must be a qualitative AND quantitative threshold to binging (that’s “binge – ing”) between viewing and reading.  At least for me there is…  I can do a whole day, 18+ hours of TV watching and I can certainly do the same for reading.  But many of these books are over 450 pages, which, to me, means several days after work, plus a weekend day (usually).  That level of sustained reading isn’t possible when you have a “real” life pulling you in multiple directions.  That’s why I advise tearing through a couple and then taking a break, then back at it.  Having said this, it’s one thing to watch the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy in one day or watch all six of the Star Wars movies AND another thing again to watch all 170+ episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.  The first two are “only” a solid day.  ST:TNG would be good fifteen (15) ten (10) hour days!!   That’s some serious viewing!!
I will close by cautioning that although these books are entertaining and the good guy wins out in the end, they are NOT suitable for children or pre-teens or even “queasy” young adults as they are graphic in the depiction of violence.
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On This Day In:
2012 How Did We Get Here?
2011 Labor Day Weekend Mishmash
More, More, More

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