Archive for the 'Books' Category

02
Jan
10

Sherlock Holmes

“I have a request. Someone I want to see. Sherlock Holmes.”

Sherlock Holmes is, undoubtedly, one of the most, if not the, most famous detective character of literature. He’s so popular he’s spilled over into cinema and TV. From Basil Rathbone to Jeremy Brett, the world’s most famous detective has had every aspect of himself discussed and debated, from his stature to his cocaine addiction to his sexuality (he’s straight, folks). His partner, Watson, has, for some strange, inexplicable reason, always been portrayed as no more than a bumbling sidekick who happens to show up at the right time with his pistol. Indeed, one has to wonder where in the world all the traditional elements of Holmes originated, especially that ridiculous deerstalker cap (really, who else in the world do you know that has ever worn one, outside of a costume?).

Guy Ritchie (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch) brings us a fairly faithful adaptation of Holmes. Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man, The Soloist) plays the detective, probably marking the first time an American has portrayed the markedly English character. And play it he does. One may argue as to the amount of explosives and modernity the film has been infused with. What one cannot argue with is the fact that he played the character to a T. Granted, a Holmes purist (and I don’t only mean by the books) might find complaints here and there, but such complaints would appear to only be nitpicking to the casual, even the dedicated, moviegoer. Jude Law (AI: Artificial Intelligence)  portrays Holmes’ dedicated friend, Dr. Watson. I breathe a sigh of relief as I write that Law’s performance brings Watson to an equal of Holmes. Surely, he lacks Holmes weirdness and proficiency as a detective, but he isn’t the idiotic sidekick anymore. He’s Holmes’ friend.

Supporting characters include Holmes’ love interest Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams), the evil Lord Blackwood (not Andy Garcia but Mark Strong), and Holmes’ reluctant colleague Inspector Lestrade (a competent performance from Eddie Marsan). The story itself is not an original work of Conan Doyle, but is based upon a Holmes’ graphic novel. Surprisingly, it works admirably well. I won’t give much away, but supernatural aspects run throughout the film. I’m glad to report that the end pays great homage to detective films and literature of old: Holmes explains his theories ala Encyclopedia Brown, revealing all to the hapless audience.

I know that the portrayal of Holmes is something long discussed. For those who really do not care, go see the movie. You’ll love it. For those who do, consider that things are always going to be reinvented. For something so superficial as a literature character, it isn’t much to let go of for a while. The film succeeds on its own, without being a Sherlock Holmes film. If it really matters that much, substitute different names.

4/5 for 2009’s Sherlock Holmes. Here’s to a Happy New Year and the hope that Brad Pitt is announced as Moriarty in the next film.

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05
Nov
08

Michael Crichton: A Great Visionary

I’ve got to take some time out to write a post about the great author, Michael Crichton. He died yesterday after battling cancer. He was 66. He wrote the fantastic novels Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Congo, Sphere, Next, and others. 

I’ve got to say, I’m pretty shocked about this. I wasn’t even aware he was battling cancer and he was pretty active in films up to his dying day. He’ll definitely be missed.

21
Apr
08

An Overview of Authors

This past Christmas I asked for and recieved about 25 books. all classics. It’s now 4 months down the road, and I’ve only read probably 7 or so. Some I had actually read before though. Right now, I’m in the middle of Kim, by Rudyard Kipling. Kipling is one of my favorite adventure authors; I absolutely love The Jungle Book. I also recieved a collection of H. G. Wells most famous novels: The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, and The First Men in the Moon. I like The Island of Dr. Moreau the best, followed by The War of the Worlds. I also have The Lost World, by Arthur Conan Doyle, which is heads higher than his Sherlock Holmes stories, which were excellent enough. The Lost World was definitely the inspiration for Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park series, not to mention the fact that he took the title for the second book from Conan Doyle’s work. Besides works of fiction, I also have The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (which, ironically, was written by Franklin himself. That was sarcasm, in case you didn’t catch it.) I haven’t read that one yet though. I also have some interesting resource books, such as A Dictionary of Symbols, The History of Piracy, and The Duelling Handbook. I especially loved Jack London’s The Sea-Wolf. I’m still trying to figure out what message London was trying to convey. It was really a very deep book, not meant for the light thinker. All in all though, Jules Verne remains my all time favorite author. I absolutely love 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It was the first real novel that I ever read, so it has a sort of special memory about it. It was a work of fiction that was far before its time. That and Journey to the Center of the Earth. Those two books are, in my opinion, the very best works of fiction out there, and if you haven’t read them, SHAME ON YOU!

18
Apr
08

What Have They Got in There, King Kong?

The character that says this line is one of my favorite movie characters, up there with Indiana Jones and Captain Nemo. Ian Malcolm has a wit that I admire (and try to copy. I’m a nerd.) I absolutely love the way he says things matter of factly–“Oh yeah, ooh, aah, that’s the way it always starts. Then later there’s running…and screaming…” Anyway, to get to the topic of the blog. The Jurassic Park movies often fall into the horror/adventure genres, when really they should be in science fiction. Michael Crichton, the author of Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park: The Lost World, often gives powerful scientific messages in his novels. In these two books, he warns the scientific community to be careful about the power of genetic engineering. It is, as Ian Malcolm describes it, “The greatest force the world has ever seen, and you’re handling it like a kid who’s found his dad’s gun.” Now again, Steven Spielberg isn’t exactly religious, but this is a powerful quote, and I believe it means more that he meant for it to. Genetic engineering opens the world up to thousands of extreme possibilities. Possibilities that could, depending on how they are used, could destroy or benefit mankind. In Jurassic Park, Crichton and Spielberg paint a picture of how these possibilities could destroy mankind. Genetic engineering, I believe, is best left alone. It is God’s tool, not ours, and to use it as He would is “playing God,” as Dr. Alan Grant says in Jurassic Park ///.

15
Apr
08

Classics Just Ain’t What They Used to Be

The Lord of the Rings. The Chronicles of Narnia. The Sea-Wolf. The War of the Worlds. Besides being books, these also have something else in common: they are timeless classics. These books (and many others) have stood the test of time and are still favorites today. These books will always be classics. But modern books don’t quite have the “classic” feel to them; I could not see books like, say, Harry Potter or Eragon to become classics. The sad thing is, these books will. Already many people prefer Harry Potter to the Lord of the Rings. These books don’t give the kind of message and thought that is needed to be classics. Eragon was simply a whirlwind of mixed up stories, all twisted into a somewhat old plotline. Now, of course, Eragon (and its sequel, Eldest) are fun to read, but they should never be granted the status that something like, say, Lord of the Rings has.




Quote of the Amount of Time I Want to Leave it Up Here

"I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I've seen C-Beams... glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost... like tears... in rain. Time... to die." ~Roy Batty (Blade Runner)
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