Constantine (2005 Movie)—Not As Deep As It Wants to Be

Constantine movie poster
Constantine

Constantine follows John Constantine as he tries to prevent the son of the Devil from using the Spear of Destiny to break into and overwhelm our world. Based on the DC/Vertigo comics series Hellblazer.

1—Half-Angels and Half-Demons

God and the Devil have a bet going for the souls of humanity. This means no direct interference from either side, just influencers whispering in peoples’s ears. When half-demons break the rules, John Constantine is there to send them back to Hell, a place with which he has personal experience, having committed suicide as a child and died for two minutes. John also performs exorcisms on possessed people. Continue reading “Constantine (2005 Movie)—Not As Deep As It Wants to Be”

Bram Stoker’s Dracula—Wants to be Romantic but Isn’t

Bram Stoker's Dracula movie poster
Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Bram Stoker’s Dracula, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, is a horror movie based on the book Dracula by Bram Stoker. The movie takes plenty of liberties though, like making Mina and Dracula love interests. Despite the music, I didn’t find it particularly romantic. Trigger warning for the movie for rape—Lucy was compelled against her will, so yes, it’s rape.

1—Disjointed Beginning

Dracula sets off to battle and comes home to his beloved Elisabeta having committed suicide, having been lead to believe that Dracula was dead. Enraged at being told Elisabeta’s soul is condemned, Dracula busts up the chapel and denounces God. Fast-forward four-hundred years and Jonathan Harker, played dismally by Keanu Reeves, goes to Transylvania with a picture of Mina, who just happens to be the twin—implied to be the reincarnation—of Elisabeta. When Dracula gets to England, he seeks out Mina, and rapes and murders her dearest friend Lucy while wooing Mina. I’m still not clear why Mina stopped being rude to him, she had every right. And that’s just one of the disjointed elements of this movie. The dialog at the beginning especially, between Dracula and Jonathan, and between Dracula and the female vampires seems…just off. Continue reading “Bram Stoker’s Dracula—Wants to be Romantic but Isn’t”

The Golden Compass (movie)—Beautiful and Complex

The Golden Compass movie poster
The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass is based off the book of the same name. It follows Lyra Belacqua as she seeks the truth behind the Magesterium and the reason they’ve been kidnapping children.

1—World

There’s a lot of world-building going on in this movie. Lyra lives in a world parallel to ours, where people’s souls live outside their bodies in the form of daemons, which take the shapes of animals—animals that can change shape while a person is still a child. There’s the Magisterium, a church who controls most of the world, but not Jordan College—though the college and its free-thinking traditions feel under threat. There’s Dust, about which we sadly get to know little, only that it’s connected to the soul and adulthood. There are the witches, who can fly and whose daemons can travel further from them than humans’s can. And of course, there’s the Golden Compass itself, a machine that can divine the truth of anything and which is a great threat to the Magisterium—Lyra comes into possession of the last one. And there’s so much more. Continue reading “The Golden Compass (movie)—Beautiful and Complex”

The NeverEnding Story (movie)—Holds Up Pretty Well

The NeverEnding Story movie poster
The NeverEnding Story

The NeverEnding Story is a movie about a bullied boy who recently lost his mother and who finds a magic book. It’s also about the adventures of the boy-warrior in the book as he tries to save his world from destruction by the Nothing.

1—Amazing Look

The look of The NeverEnding Story is spectacular, with lots of makeups and gorgeous scenery. There’s the Ivory Tower, a glowing needle-like spire topped with a stone flower of a castle, surrounded by a hollow mountain. There’s the Swamps of Sadness and and a river with man-sized crystals growing beside it, the gigantic sphinxes of the Southern Oracle, and spectacular cloudscapes. There’s all the creatures in the movie too—a giant Rock Biter and ra acing snail, gnomes, the creepy wolf-like Gmork, and the beautiful Luck Dragon Falkor. Atreyu looks just like a normal human boy though, presumably to increase audience identification. The music is pretty awesome too. Continue reading “The NeverEnding Story (movie)—Holds Up Pretty Well”

Soulless—Illustrated Hardcover Edition—Squee!

Soulless by Gail Carriger, illustrated by Jensine Eckwall book cover
Soulless by Gail Carriger, illustrated by Jensine Eckwall

Soulless, by Gail Carriger and this version illustrated by Jensine Eckwall, is titled after the preternatural Miss Alexia Tarabotti, whose touch renders supernatural vampires and werewolves mortal. The book, told in omniscient point of view, mainly follows Alexia as she flirts with an alpha werewolf, visits with a rove vampire, and gets kidnapped by mad scientists.

I know I’ve talked about the Parasol Protectorate series before, but not this individual book, and the issue of the illustrated hardback seemed the perfect time for a reread and a review.

1—The Illustrations

The illustrations in Soulless were charming. Done in a pen-and-ink style, they are intricately detailed. Scattered throughout the book, there are ten full-page illustrations that include a werewolf in wolf form carrying a coat, a walk through the park with dirigible floating overhead, Lord Akeldama holding his tuning fork-anti-eavesdropping device, and of course the first scene in the book with Alexia hitting a vampire with her parasol. There are other key moments illustrated, but I won’t tell about them since that would give some important plot points away. Continue reading “Soulless—Illustrated Hardcover Edition—Squee!”

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter—Secret Societies, Murder, and Tea

The Strange Case of the Alchemist's Daughter by Theodora Goss book cover
The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss

The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, by Theodora Goss, follows the meeting and adventures of the daughters and ’daughters’ of mad scientists in 1890s London. Mary Jekyll, Diana Hyde, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, and Justine Frankenstein, along with the help of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, investigate the murders of young women in White Chapel and their connection to the sinister Societe des Alchimistes.

1—Notes and Interruptions

The book is in epistolary format, ‘written’ by Catherine Moreau with commentary by the other girls. There’s an ‘Author’s Note’ at the end of chapter one, where Catherine explains the notes and why she’s kept them in the book—partly to help illustrate the characters of the various young women about whom she is writing and partly so you can see what she’s had to put up with while writing it. It’s very meta, but very entertaining. Continue reading “The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter—Secret Societies, Murder, and Tea”

The Emperor’s New Groove—Ridiculous Nonsense in the Best Way

The Emperor's New Groove movie poster
The Emperor’s New Groove

The Emperor’s New Groove is a Disney Movie that follows the Emperor Kuzco after he’s cursed and becomes a llama. He then has to rely on the peasant Pacha whose home he’d planned on destroying. It’s a buddy comedy that makes the most of using humor to get away with any and everything.

1—The Nonsense

We start the movie off with Emperor Kuzco narrating how his life got so off-track. He occasionally stops the story to do things like scribble over the top of it. Also, we get one instance of story-Kuzco arguing with narrator-Kuzco, with is very meta. There are plenty of anachronisms, like an electric floor buffer, and animals that don’t belong in a jungle, like a squirrel. During the final chase scene, Yzma and Kronk get taken out by a very localized lightning storm, only to reappear at Yzma’s secret lab and not know themselves how they got there. But oh well, on with the assassination attempt! The visual gags and use of “cartoon” physics just works in this movie. Continue reading “The Emperor’s New Groove—Ridiculous Nonsense in the Best Way”

Van Helsing—Monster Mash-Up

Van Helsing movie poster
Van Helsing

Van Helsing, directed by Stephen Sommers, follows the titular character as he fights Dracula, the Wolf-Man, and Frankenstein’s Monster. The horror movie is both tribute and homage to the classic Universal Horror movies, as well as the original books.

1—Born Dead

The plot is as follows—Dracula—played by Richard Roxburgh—commissioned Dr. Frankenstein to create a creature to power a machine that would bring to life the children of Dracula and his brides. They’re nasty little monsters birthed by the hundreds and would destroy all human life. Enter Van Helsing—played by Hugh Jackman—sent by the Vatican to save the souls of the Valerious family. Their ancestor swore they’d not enter heaven until Dracula was killed, and there are only two members of the family left. There’s also a mysterious link between the amnesiac Van Helsing and Dracula. And oh yes, they have to figure out how to finally kill Dracula. Continue reading “Van Helsing—Monster Mash-Up”

Kill the Farm Boy—Not Your Average Epic Fantasy

Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne book cover
Kill the Farm Boy by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne

Kill the Farm Boy, by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne, is the tale of a Chosen One who runs away from home and promptly gets crushed to death by Fia, a seven foot vegetarian warrior who feels really sorry about it. This accidental death kicks off a quest by Fia and a ragtag crew of others for, well they don’t really agree on what they want. But they all want something and the best way to get it is to cross the lands of Pell in an epic-ish journey.

1—Meet the Adventurers

There’s Fia, of course, who just wants to settle down and grow a rose garden. There’s also Gustave the enchanted talking goat who ran away with said Chosen One farm boy to avoid being made into curry and now hangs out with Fia hoping to maintain same. And Agrabella, the only Wakeful person in a castle cursed to sleep, a bard who decides it’s time to leave said castle and follow Fia to find out what the heck happened. There’s the Crepuscular Lord Toby, who really wants some artisanal crackers and cheese, and to become a full blown Dark Lord. And lastly, there’s Lord Toby’s huntswoman Poltro, who got dropped on her head once too many times as a child but does her best as a rogue despite a crippling fear of chickens. Together they all venture forth to visit Grinda the Sand Witch. Continue reading “Kill the Farm Boy—Not Your Average Epic Fantasy”

Competence—Prim and Percy Come Into Their Own

Competence by Gail Carriger book cover
Competence by Gail Carriger

Competence, by Gail Carriger, is the third in The Custard Protocol series. This time out, we follow Primrose and her brother Percival, rather than Prudence, as the main characters. We start out with Prim being inadvertently abandoned in Singapore when the Spotted Custard, her airship, springs a helium leak.

1—Prim’s and Percy’s Adventures

After being separated from the Spotted Custard, Prim—along with Tasherit, a were-lioness—Prim must secure helium for her ship by stealing a mushroom. Then, after Prim and Rue receive a coded missive from Rue’s mother, Percy must plot a dangerous and little-used course to South America to rescue an endangered species of vampire, the pishtacos. After Rue’s first attempt to meet with said pishtacos goes awry, it’s up to Prim and Percy, using nothing but good manners and logic, to convince the vampires of their good intentions. And none of that even takes into account Percy’s attempt to use a book club to save a soulless man. Continue reading “Competence—Prim and Percy Come Into Their Own”