Movie Review – Long Lost – Harlan Coben

Posted in Books on March 17, 2010 by welshrogue

Nine years ago, Myron Bolitar ran off to a desert island with Terese Collins, both losing themselves in each other, trying to avoid the pain of their lives. Now she calls him from Paris, asking for help. Myron flies to meet her and finds himself in a whole lot of danger fighting to find the truth before its too late.

A Harlan Coben book is like a guilty pleasure without the guilt, its so enjoyable to sit down and read his new book whenever one is released but even more so when Myron is in the story! Myron Bolitar is a guy who cannot help trying to do the right thing even when it causes discomfort and pain for himself. He is the proverbial good guy and a lead character who is very easy to root for.  Of course, if Myron is the one half of the equation, then Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood III) is the other half. The most wonderfully twisted psycho ever to grace the pages of a book. Win is truly a one off and as such, a complete joy to read as he goes through life doing what he wants, when he wants and with whom.

Long Lost starts off with a reunion and quickly twists the plot until you really don’t see the final twist coming until it bops you between the eyes. Throwing terrorism into a plot about a lost child and murder and it takes a very talented writer to keep the reader from becoming confused. Luckily Mr Coben has talent to spare.

Long Lost is yet another great book by Harlen Coben. The only shame is that now I have to wait months for his next book.

Book Review – Corsair – Clive Cussler with Jack Du Brul

Posted in Books on March 16, 2010 by welshrogue

Captain Juan Cabrillo and the Corporation are called in to investigate the downing of a plane carrying the United States Secretary of State which it disappears on its way to a peace conference in Lybia but finds himself involved in a lot more than just a plane crash.

The latest Clive Cussler book brings back the adventure feel of his earlier work. Set in Lybia, an unusual location for an adventure book, Corsair begins as does all Cussler books with a chapter historically setting the plot. This time, its 1803 and the UN Navy and the pirates of the Barbary coast do battle.

Some of the book is set on the ship Oregon, a run down freighter that isn’t what it appears to be. The Oregon could be described as a modern day Q Ship along with all the technology available today. An example of something similar can be found at Gizmodo. The crew of the Oregon comes from all walks of life, well all walks of intelligence, military and scientist life.

While the action sometimes splits into two separate threads, you never find yourself confused as to who is doing what to who, perhaps just wondering why. The action is very much action, so much so that I half expected Dirk Pitt to be in the middle of it. As usual with novels about the Oregon, the main character is the one legged captain, Juan Cabrillio. Resourceful and clever, he would have walked straight out of central casting. As with most of Cussler’s characters, he is a good guy, more so than you and I, and does the right thing for the right reasons even when doing so is dangerous or downright unhealthy.

A good book, Corsair, brings back the adventure and thrills of the early Clive Cussler books.

Movie Review – Tron

Posted in Movies on March 13, 2010 by welshrogue

A disgruntled sacked programmer tries to hack into a computer system looking for evidence that his work had been stolen but finds himself getting into a lot more than just trouble.

Starring Jeff Bridges as Flynn the programmer, Tron takes a very simple concept of business malfeasance and turns it into a 96 or so minute video game. It is no spoiler to say that Flynn finds himself inside the computer network (1982 was a little early to describe it as the Internet but that is what it appears to be), via the evil MCP (Master Control Program). What you get is the inside of a computer imagined by a 14 year old video game fan. Not so much circuits as tanks, not so much bits as people wearing neon, not so much hardware as strangewear.

In 1982, the effects were cutting edge, raytrace graphics with shiny gray surfaces everywhere. So much neon it looks like a Miami nightclub from the 1980s. Viewed today (2010) the computer graphics don’t look so bad, infact they appear quite quaint but the effects on the characters looks more basic and more obvious. If the special effects for the characters had been better, Tron would still hold up today, albeit with a retro look.

Jeff Bridges, 30 when Tron was made, plays Flynn as a young, perhaps naive but very talented programmer who is just as good playing the games as writing them. Paired up with Bruce ‘Bring Em Back Alive & Babylon 5’ Boxleitner as programmer Alan (and title character Tron) and Lora (Yori) played by Cindy Morgan, the three of them appear to be harmless people while their online or computer persona’s (well Flynn’s online persona CLU doesn’t last too long but then Flynn takes over) are very different.

By today’s standards, Tron is silly with its use of computer terms (RAM, CROM, CLU) as names and does tend to sound cheesey rather than cool but in 1982, most people were not computer savvy anyway. Looking at the digital landscape portrayed in the movie, it is interesting to see how close to the real internet today the film makers made it. Even down to programs taking over other programs (viruses) Tron seems to have predicted the future very well.

To my eye, Tron has not dated that well, its fun to watch and if you feel nostalgic about basic computer graphics, grab your popcorn but if you want to see something with state of the art graphics, there is the sequel, Tron Legacy due out in a few months. If you have watched Tron and appreciate the shiny grays you can always pickup The Last Starfighter which takes the grays to the next level!

Movie Review – Funny People

Posted in Movies on March 11, 2010 by welshrogue

A famous stand-up comedian turned movie star is diagnosed with a life threatening disease. Feeling lonely, he hires an up and coming comedian to help write him some material and the two develop an awkward friendship.

Adam Sandler is George Simmons, playing a character that pretty much reflects his own career. Simmons has pretty much become alone, if you discount the meaningless one night stands, who finds himself looking for companionship as he faces his possible death. Seth Rogen is Ira Wright, a stand up comedian who is also a talented writer. No matter what movie Rogen is in and no matter who he is playing, he still has that same annoying laugh.

Director Judd Apatow usually casts his wife, Leslie Mann, in his movies for that I am eternally grateful. Leslie Mann is, to me, gorgeous and very talented. I honestly could watch her for hours, and her acting too! I would hate to have to choose between her and Angelina Jolie…….right!!!

Funny People is darkly funny, with a wicked wit. Lots of one liners that zing back and forth like bullets. Adam Sandler is an under appreciated serious actor who only seems to get props for the silly comedies that made him famous. In this movie he is convincing as a man who has lost a lot of what he had and is feeling empty because of it.

Thanks to this movie, I am now a huge fan of the Warren Zevon song “Keep me in your heart” which was perfect for this movie.

Funny People is a serious movie that is hilarious with off color humor, which fades in the last half hour, leaving a drama and for that, it misses being an excellent movie, becoming only a very good movie.

Movie Review – Moon

Posted in Movies on March 11, 2010 by welshrogue

A solitary miner on the moon is coming close to the end of his three year shift. His sporadic video contact with his wife keeps his hopes up as he begins to feel the stress of the work.

A very sparse movie, few characters, less locations, zero explosions or aliens or laser guns. Moon is a very dark movie, not only for the realistic lighting and portrayal of conditions on the moon but in the way the plot reveals the important information about the movie.

Sam Rockwell plays Sam Bell, the lonely miner with his only real companion being a robot/computer voiced by Kevin Spacey. Since the majority of the movie features Sam Bell only, it is just as well that Sam Rockwell is a very talented actor who is watchable.

It was cool to see that rather than rely on computer graphics, the moon surface action was created with miniatures which always look a little better and more believable.

Moon is a simple movie with an interesting plot that gets you thinking after-wards. An intelligent science fiction movie which takes time to develop but is well worth the wait.

Movie Review – The Hurt Locker

Posted in Movies on March 10, 2010 by welshrogue

Movie Review The Hurt Locker

A bomb disposal export in Iraq and his team must go around and disable IED’s (Improvised Explosive Devices) before they can kill and destroy those around them.

This is an ultra realistic movie that deals with much more than just the job of cutting the correct red wire of a bomb. Filmed in Jordan, which to my uneducated eye, looks like I imagine Iraq to look, the movie follows a team of a bomb disposal expert and his two team mates through a city where every pile of rubbish may disguise a bomb and anyone watching may have a cell phone to set off the bomb.

This is a tense movie, not just for the characters but for the watcher who is permanently tensed up waiting for the next explosion or death. The plot introduces the main characters and then follows them as they deal with the day to day job in various ways.

Oscar nominated Jeremy Renner stars (and I do mean stars) as Staff Sargent William James, the bomb tech. I watched Renner previously in the short lived but excellent cop show The Unusuals as well as a brief role in the movie version of the TV show SWAT. Each time I found that Renner was believable and a very talented actor. If there is any justice in the world, he will go on and become a very well know, very rich actor who makes the right movies rather than just three or four blockbusters.

Anthony Mackie and Brian Geraghty play the support team for the bomb tech and while not as in focus as Renners character, still do an excellent job and are enjoyable to watch.

I found The Hurt Locker a challenging movie to watch because it is brutal, not in a Tarantino movie kind of way but in a honest, real life way that makes you glad you are not living in a war zone such as Iraq. After watching this, I had to find something light and brainless to watch so I can relax. Now that’s a movie doing its job.

The Hurt Locker is a movie that you should watch, even just once. A famous bald orange radio and TV host said that he would never watch it again but loved it. An excellent movie that does not glamorize war, makes you think, hard, and is physically grabs hold of you and doesn’t let go.

Movie Review 2012

Posted in Movies on March 10, 2010 by welshrogue

On 21st December 2012 the Mayan’s predict that…. ah screw it, its the end of the world as you know it! There will be fire, water and John Cusack.

I could go on about the acting, the plot such as it is, but the truth is, this is a movie about special effects and death and destruction. While the science may or may not be accurate, not being a scientist I honestly don’t know or care although I did see a discovery movie (Supervolcano) that contained a large part of the destruction featured in this movie.

Joseph Stalin is credited (incorrectly apparently) with saying “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic” and this movie proves this to be true. When part of the united states falls into the sea, its hard to really care that Hollywood will be no longer making movies, Two and a Half men will no longer be shot and LA Lakers will never win another championship. Actually I still am not that concerned.

The destruction is overwhelming to the point that it just fades into the background rather than staying front and center. The effects of the destruction is OK, imaginative but not the most convincing. Its fun to watch but unlike the ground, I wasn’t moved.

Woody Harrelson does stand out as a complete nutter who predicts the end of the world but doesn’t stay around long enough to bring some comic relief to a movie that starts as a downer and doesn’t really stop.

Failed relationships are wrapped around the plot like vines choking the life out of the movie. A old guy on a cruise didn’t really make me care that one of them is estranged from his son. The lead character, played by John Cusack, is a divorced father with two small children living with their mother and her boyfriend. The president of the USA doesn’t have perfect relationship with his daughter. Shame no one makes a movie where there is a happy family who stays together.

2012 is directed by Roland Emmerich who had previously made The Day After Tomorrow, and Independence Day among others puts in his signature moments as usual. The most noticeable moment is the dog having a close call. In both movies aforementioned as well as 2012, a dog has a near death moment.

There are very clever movies, intelligent movies, movies where you put your brain in neutral and sit back and enjoy, and then there are movies such as 2012 which is dumb and boring, wrapped up in special effects and ineffective characters who I found it very hard to care about. If you like destruction that looks like its caused by Chuck Norris and Godzilla fighting underground, try and find a movie that features Chuck Norris and Godzilla fighting underground and if you fail to do that, you can watch this, I guess, if you are bored, I mean really bored!

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