Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: The Name of the Wind

The Name of the Wind The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve been having a hard time figuring out how I want to review this book. In the end, I’m going to give it 4 of 5 stars because I did enjoy the story and plan to continue the series. However there is just something nagging at me ... something that doesn’t feel quite right about the book, but I can’t put my finger on it.

I didn’t start this one with a completely blank slate. I went into it knowing that it was a fantasy story, and I do have a prejudice against most of those in general. The first few paragraphs made me even more biased because of the overly poetic wording. I mean, there is only so much talk about different forms of silence and how it embodies a space that I can stomach before I want to get on with the story. I managed to get through that bit and found myself eventually drawn in by the characters and situation.

And I really did begin to enjoy the actual plot quite a bit. There is a lot of the typical author’s tricks of hinting at something larger, more ominous, but letting the reader know that it’s not going to be revealed until much later. However, it hasn’t felt too heavy-handed or distracting yet. There are enough other interesting things that are explained quickly enough that I feel willing to save some patience for the bigger elements. Yet at times, we delve into these poetic paragraphs that grate at me ever so slightly that I can’t embrace the book as a whole.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love descriptive words and a well written narrative that might have some poetic leanings. However, it’s like that favorite food that’s just been sprinkled with a little too much salt –- you know just how enjoyable it could be so that even the slightest deviation sours the experience for you even if it makes it better for someone else. I know that a lot of people really love this book. And I agree that it is a good book, but it just isn’t quite to my taste.

The other small detractor is the fact that I didn’t realize this was part of a trilogy until I was more than half-way through. I have been looking for self-contained novels to read of late so that I don’t get sucked into these never-ending stories, and here I find that I was duped yet again. The author has me sufficiently hooked that I will continue reading, but I’m going to do more research before I jump into another story.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Movie Review: Prometheus

I watched Prometheus twice this weekend. I bought both tickets ahead of time, which is the first time I can remember gambling on a film like that. In this case, it did not pay off.

Long story short: I did not like this movie. Even if you view it completely separate from Alien, its story-linked predecessor, I feel that it did not succeed. Of course, if you try to link the two movies and compare them together you won't get very far because although they may be set in the same universe, they are not same genre nor scope. I read another review (by Faith Erin Hicks) that worded this difference quite well:

Alien is a taut, miniature movie focusing on a tiny fragment of working life in the future. In contrast, Prometheus is high-minded message SciFi, ruminating about life, the universe, everything.
Don't go into this movie expecting a horror film, or even an action film. It tries to be a mysterious drama, but it ends up answering all the wrong questions and left me as a viewer unsatisfied.

Another big problem I had with the story-line is that the characters consisted of supposed experienced scientists, who acted like they knew nothing of the scientific method. Several lines in the movie refer to quarantine procedure, but very little of what I would consider proper procedures were ever followed. And I don't even want to get started on the actual science behind DNA. The leaps that this tale were making were so absurd as to make me laugh out loud.

In the end, there were a couple of redeeming factors. One, Michael Fassbender continues to impress me with a performance was that truly entralling. Despite the questionable nature of the character he portrayed, he was the one of the few in the movie that I wanted to keep watching. The only other characters of note in my mind were Charlize Theron's company woman and Idris Elba's captain of the ship. All other actors, although some of them very qualified and respectable in their own rights, seemed to be delivering very flat or strained performances. The relationships between the characters didn't feel realistic and their reactions to the situation as presented were fairly ridiculous.

The second redeeming factor was the visuals. Not just the special effects, which were fantastic. But the composition and structure of many scenes was captivating.

Final rating: 4 out of 10.