Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Merry Christmas

Well, the holidays have been busy so far as expected. My wife and I have been busy baking and attending parties. Like most men (I guess), my hobbies or at least enjoyable activities rotate, so blogging has been light.

I have been being a chess geek again, devoting hours of study to the game, for what reason I really don’t know. Maybe because I simply enjoy the game and intricacies of it. I downloaded a new program that will rate your play. I didn’t do too well, but there is always room for improvement. Right?

I have also been restoring some family photos in PhotoShop. Easy stuff like taking out scratches and flaws in the photo. The new thing I am trying is hand coloring black and white photos, adding just a touch of color here and there. I’ll post some of the stuff after Christmas.

I wish all of you a Merry Christmas and will start writing again after the new year.

Kong Rules the Weekend Box Office

But he didn’t crush it as Hollywood would have hoped. Opening at $50.15 million, it fell short of the hoped for $60 million. The reviews haven’t been that kind to Jackson’s LOTRs follow up. It seems the film is more stunning visually than having a stunning story.

We’ll see if this really is the case. My wife and I are going on Friday, so I’ll judge for myself. I’m going to Kong to get visually wowed. Story is in second place for this one.

The Chronicles of Narnia had a strong second week, bringing in $31 million, making the total for the film $112 million so far. Encouraging not necessarily for Hollywood, but good for us Narnia-lovers.


I’ve been meaning to get to this review, but with the holidays approaching, well, you know busy this time of year is.

Dark Horse Comics
unites two of my all time faves in writer Paul Jenkins and Artist Huberto Ramos. Jenkins and Ramos worked on the now defunct Peter Parker: Spectacular Spider-Man and the current Spectacular Spider-Man (I stopped buying this title after Ramos moved on).

Revalations is the story of Charlie Northern, ace detective for Scotland Yard. An old friend, Cardinal Marcel LeClair, approaches Charlie to investigate the death of Father William Richleau. Richleau plummets from an open window to his death. In his hand, he holds a coin, and from the darkness emerges a man spewing Latin looking to stab the already dead priest.

Charlie decides to help his old friend and has his investigation interfered with at every turn by the bad guy in the story, Toscianni. It seems that Toscianni is the head of some secret society that is up to no good.

With the recent onset of movies dealing with Catholicism and secret societies ( e.g. The DaVinci Code), the setting for this story is not the hook for me. As previously mentioned, Jenkins is a great writer and Ramos an incredible artist. It is about the characters rather than the topic. Sure, it’s a good murder mystery, but the story is what grabs you. Nothern is having a “crisis of faith”. He doesn’t believe in God anymore or the Catholic Church. His friend, a Father in the upper echelons of the Catholic Church, comes to him for help. Northern comes to Marcel’s aid not because of the church, but their friendship. And it is no wonder that Charlie has some issues. A serial rapist killed his mother and father.

Jenkins wit is outstanding. Northern is not only a skeptical conspiracy theorist, but a merciless wiseacre. Great storytelling.

The art is awesome. I will admit, the middle-aged lead character looks a lot like Peter Parker, but that doesn’t detract from the story or the illustrations, at least for me. That is why I like Ramos. It is the way he draws his characters. He has a very cartoony style. No realism here.

This story is definitely a mature title. The language is at times very rough, and the scenes depicted within this book are often gruesome or adult in nature.

Still, overall it is a great story and a great work of art. There are two issues left in the series, and it will be interesting to see how Jenkins wraps this one up.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

I went and saw Narnia on opening night, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The screenplay was true to the story. The beginning of the movie was awesome and gave us a visual on why the kids were getting out of London during the war.

The casting was perfect, and the kids that played Lucy and Edmund played their characters wonderfully. Liam Neeson was an excellent choice for the voice of Aslan, and showed a perfect blend of compassion and fierceness.

The CGI was amazing in this film. I thoroughly enjoyed the look they achieved with Mr. Tumnus legs and walk. Aslan was awesome, as well as the myriad of creatures that were created for the film. The minitaur was large and fierce, as I had pictured him, and the centaurs were amazing as well.

Tilda Swinton was amazing and perfect for the role. I'm glad they decided to cast her. Nicole Kidman’s name was thrown around for a while to play the White Witch, but in my opinion would have been completely wrong for the part. Swinton on the other hand was wickedly evil as “Gabriel” in Constantine, and I would bet her performance there helped her get the role.

Now as far as the allegorical Christ story is concerned, it wasn’t overdone in the movie, so those who don’t agree with that particular way of thinking would still have enjoyed that part of the story. C.S. Lewis did not write the story as an allegory though. But, you certainly can see the parallels between the characters in the story, particularly Aslan and Christ. Both suffered, died, and resurrected bringing hope to the hopeless. I wept as Aslan was beat by Jadis’ minions, as she cut his beautiful mane and as he died. I was moved again as Lucy and Susan mourn the fallen Aslan, and as the mice free his bonds and the stone table is broken and Aslan rises again.

No matter your reason for seeing this film, it is beautifully done and will hopefully lead to a complete set of Narnia movies. A must see on the big screen and worth the full price of admission.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

King Kong First Look

Here is a first look at Peter Jackson’s new masterpiece, King Kong, opening December 14th.

Will it rival the Lord of the Rings? Heck, no! Will it be an amazing film? You Betcha!!!!

Kong is definitely a heavyweight, coming in at around three hours. Back is the missing spider scene cut from Cooper and Scoedsack’s original film. Most obvious is the fact that Kong is going to be a very different creature than the 1933 version. The undisputed King of Skull Island is going to be a battered, bruised, slightly pudgy denizen that has proved his mettle due to the years of battles with the T-Rex and the other inhabitants of the island, leading to his scarred and rough appearance.

Naomi Watts and Adrien Brody make sense. Jack Black, not so much. However, I really think Black is going to give us an amazing performance. The fact that Peter Jackson was borderline “stalking” him proves that he had faith in Black’s ability to be right for this film.

This is going to be awesome. Narnia and Kong back to back. What a Christmas it will be!!!!!

Boneheaded Bruins…

Well, the Boston Bruins have gone and done something stupid in trading away star center Joe Thorton.

He was their best player, and has been a leader on the team for years. Moreover, he has played his entire career in Boston and is 11th in the league in scoring. That should mean that your job is secure.

Barry Melrose, ESPN Hockey commentator and former NHL player, seems to think that this should be a wakeup call to Thorton, because with his size, toughness, and skill should have led them further in the playoffs by now, maybe even to a Stanley Cup. San Jose will be a fresh start and a chance to prove he’s not just an under-achiever. Uh huh. Thorton can’t carry the whole team on his back.

Thorton didn’t even know he was getting traded. He got a call unexpectedly after dinner. Mike O’Connell must be feeling the heat and knows that his career in Boston is just about over, so he pulls a stunt like this to drop some salary and maybe pick up some mediocre players to get them by until they can pick up a halfway decent player. Oh, by the way, Coach Mike Sullivan is no prize either. Rumor has it that both O’Connell and Sullivan’s jobs are on the chopping block.

Too bad they didn’t fire them and keep Thorton. Guess my Bruin’s days are over.

I just dug my old San Jose Sharks jersey out of the closet. I guess there was a reason.

Alias gets the Axe

Entering Season 5 with Alias star Jennifer Garner pregnant and desirous of a big movie career, a lackluster script, the departure of two agents, the replacement of said agents with two non-compelling characters and a long winter break due to the previously mentioned pregnancy, it is no wonder that Alias got the axe.

Declining ratings didn’t help either. On any given Thursday, I would watch Smallville and tape Alias.

It was a good run. Alias will forever live on in syndication and on DVD. Seasons one and two were outstanding.

Here is an interview with Garner on the demise of Alias and Sydney Bristow.