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Velox's Blog



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Of Space, Wheels, and Watches

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Other, Literature Aug 08 2014 · 99 views
GotG, Wheel of Time and 3 more...
There’s been a lot of great things in just this first week of August. First, of course, starting with August 1st: Guardians of the Galaxy. Oh man was it amazing.

Though, as much fun and as beautifully made as Guardians is, I do think The Winter Soldier is still the better film, overall. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’d consider TWS to be the best-made film so far, above even The Avengers (I’d have to watch them again, but from what I can remember, at least, it really is amazingly written). That being said, Avengers is still my favorite film, as I think it was simultaneously the most fun and most well-made of the lot, but TWS is an amazing film, as is Guardians. And Guardians is certainly the most fun film so far of the franchise (the only other film coming close would be Avengers, which while I think is still the better film overall, is not quite as fun. Close, but not quite).

So basically, other than saying that Avengers is currently my favorite film, and the best-made film overall is TWS, and the most fun film is Guardians, it’s hard for me to rank the three besides to say that those three films are definitely the best films of the franchise so far, IMO (and my favorites—then again, if we’re talking favorites, I’d be remiss if I did not mention the first Iron Man, or The First Avenger. But I’d still put Avengers, Guardians, and TWS above those two, I think).

What that all boils down to is that Marvel Studios is amazing (particularly this year—two of the three best films so far in the same year), and I simply cannot wait for Age of Ultron. I’m less excited for Ant-Man, but I am still eager to see that too. Especially because I heard Kevin Feige say how it was “their heist movie” which sounds great, depending on how it’s done.

(and seriously, I need dancing Groot. Best part of the film. =P)


But again in the topic of Space, this week I had a Superman film marathon:

I recently picked up the Superman: 5-film Collection from Amazon, because . . . heck, it was only $10, and I had never seen any of the Christopher Reeve films, nor Superman Returns, and I’ve been meaning and wanting to for a long time. Plus, the included versions were the extended edition of the first film and the Richard Donner cut of the second, which are the versions I wanted to see first anyway (eventually I hope to go back and watch the theatrical versions of both, though).

Anyway, as expected, the first two Reeve films were good, while the second two were . . . not so good. =P And I really enjoyed Superman Returns, personally, but it really must be viewed as a sequel of sorts to the first two Reeve films, as many of its faults would be that it does not stand alone and tries so much to be like the Reeve films (and the first half is certainly better than the second, but still—overall, I really enjoyed it, probably as much as the first two Reeve films, and more at times). But it was simply great finally seeing these films, and the best-made films or not, they were still great superhero fun.

I finished the marathon out with re-watching Man of Steel, because I couldn’t resist since I had already watched so much Superman, I figured I may as well watch all the Superman films I had. It’s my personal favorite of the six films, but there are certainly places where the Reeve films (and Returns) are better. Plus, I don’t have any nostalgia toward the Reeve films, and I’m excited for the prospect of a DC Cinematic Universe, so those two things definitely weigh the balance in favor of MoS for. Still, overall some great films in all, and the marathon was quite fun.


On the subject of Wheels (though actually just one wheel, that being the Wheel of Time), I finally read The Eye of the World, the first book in the incredibly long series, by Robert Jordan. It took a little while, but overall was fairly enjoyable.

Comparing to LotR or ASoIaF, it’s certainly not nearly as good (not to say those two are equals either, though—IMO LotR is high above ASoIaF, but to each his own—I do absolutely love them both and oh my gosh I cannot wait for The Winds of Winter. I'm literally checking Google all the time to see if a release date has been announced, even though I know it probably hasn't), but I know it’s not completely fair to compare them. Then again, it did have a lot of similarities to LotR, which ended up hurting it rather than helping it.

But it still wasn’t bad by any means. In fact, it was pretty good overall, and I do look forward to reading the next book and, eventually, the whole series (assuming it keeps being at least fairly good).

The main thing for me was that none of the characters were really interesting enough to stand on their own, which I didn’t realize until they got split up at one point. Lan and Moiraine are the two most interesting of the group (and Elyas, though he has a lot more potential that wasn't used, and he wasn’t in there enough), but they don’t really get all that much page-time, especially when the group is separated. Rand should be interesting, as he’s the main character, but . . . he’s not, really, or at least not until he’s with a large group.

But again, it was interesting enough and enjoyable enough to still be a good book, and I will be looking to pick up the next in the series (probably whenever I can find it at a used bookstore). And I'm extremely glad I finally read it, as I've had this book sitting around for so long while always saying "I'm definitely going to get to it soon!" . . . and then never doing so. But I promised myself I'd read it this summer, and while I was planning to read it in June, at least I still got to it. =P


And lastly, Watches. As with TEotW, I finally got around to reading Watchmen, by Alan Moore. I saw the movie for the first time a couple years ago or so, and a couple more times since then, but I hadn’t read the graphic novel until now, though I've really been meaning to. (I then re-watched the film last night after finishing the book as I wanted to compare/contrast/etc. As often with adaptations . . . the book is definitely better =P But I do enjoy the film)

It’s really one of the most thought-provoking novels I’ve ever read, graphic novel or prose. For example, even just a (seemingly) simple question such as Who is the most "good" character? arouses many questions and thoughts. There are just so many questions and considerations for each character—is what they do right, or necessary, or both, or neither? Or is any character all that good?

Of course there’s many answers and points of view on all those questions, and I’m not really sure about my opinion on the answers, either. But that really is, to me, one of the greatest and most enjoyable aspects about this graphic novel—how much it really makes you think and question the characters and their actions. It’s incredibly dark, grim, and depressing, but it allows for a lot of reflection. I can’t say who’s the most moral character or even if there is one, and I don’t know the answer to a myriad other questions the graphic novel brought up either, but I do know one thing: I’ll certainly be thinking about this book for a long, long time. =P Which is really the greatest thing ever and something I love so much when books do that to you.

Favorite Quote: Ever since I first saw the film (heck, even the trailer), I’ve always loved this line:

“[. . .] will look up and shout, ‘save us!’ . . . And I’ll look down and whisper, ‘no’.”

But upon reading the graphic novel, one quote that particularly stood out to me that hadn’t in the several times I had seen the movie was:

“No. Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise.”

It's weird saying it since it's just on paper, but really the "delivery" of that line (the surrounding events, the character, when/how it's said, etc.) is what made it stand out. But speaking of, can I just say how much I love Jackie Earle Haley in the film? He really does a fantastic job with Rorschach—another of my favorite performed-lines being “None of you understand. I’m not locked up in here with you. You’re locked up in here with me!” But honestly every single line of his is just delivered so well.

But there's really just so many thought-provoking lines throughout the whole novel, it's awesome. I have to say, definitely the best graphic novel I've read so far.


Anyway, that basically does it for my first week of August so far. =P I’ve read so many great books (a bunch of great graphic novels, a bunch of great childrens books, bunch of Neil Gaiman and Conan Doyle and others. . .) and seen so many great films this year so far (CA:TWS, GotG, LEGO movie, Frozen [didn’t see it until this past February or so], Maleficent, Days of Future Past, etc. . . .). Will maybe do another blog entry on those later, but it's been a great year so far.

Currently reading: The Princess Bride (again, as seems to be a trend with books I’m reading recently . . . finally!). My sister bought me the new beautifully-illustrated hardcover edition for my birthday recently, so this seemed as perfect time as any to finally get around to reading it. Great and hilarious so far, as expected (just finished chapter 4). And I just have to say: thank God shrieking tarantulas aren’t real. Spiders are scary enough as they are. =P


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Last Forever

Posted by Velox , in Reviews Apr 01 2014 · 211 views

BZP! Been a while; I've missed you. Been a busy month, but just had to pop in after last night's HIMYM episode. Hope everyone's doing well.
 
This entry is about How I Met Your Mother’s series finale, “Last Forever.” Yes, spoilers follow (hence spoiler tag =P).
 
Spoiler

 
What about you guys: thoughts? Please remember to use spoiler tags if discussing any specifics. 


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So, Pacific Rim

Posted by Velox , in Reviews Jan 18 2014 · 258 views
Pacific Rim, Film Review
It’s the movie everyone’s talking about. Or was, at least, closer to when it was released...which was a long time ago now. But still, it was a very widely-discussed film, procuring lots of hype and attention.
 
And of course me, not going to the theater very often, only just saw it recently. And then a little more recently after buying the DVD (and by "recently" I mean nearly a month ago...and about two months since the first viewing).
 
So, about Pacific Rim. Spoilers to follow!
 
I’ve heard this movie be called so amazing because of the great character depth and its intelligence.
 
Well, both were lacking, sadly, in my opinion.
 
Honest Trailers’ version of it is actually basically my opinion, but to expand on it:
 
Not bad. Though to be honest, it didn’t really live up to the hype. Maybe it’s because of the hype that made it not live up to it, who knows.
 
But it was awesome—yes, yes it was. But let’s get into the non-awesome things first:
 
A lot of movies have a lot of plot holes. A lot of them can be ignored while you’re watching the film because of the film itself. Olympus Has Fallen, for example, has a lot of plot holes, yet the film was still very intense, and they were able to be ignored during the film. Same could be said with other films, like TDKR, etc.
 
But this is not one of those. There were a lot of times in the movie when I was like “oh, this is definitely a ‘10’!” Then a few minutes later I’d be “wow, this is like a 4 at best.” And back and forth. That’s never really happened before—I’ve noticed various things wrong with movies while I watch them, yes, but none disrupted the movie as much as they did here. (Addendum: after watching the film a second time, the flaws were still obvious, but they didn’t disrupt the movie nearly as much.)
 
The prologue was mostly unneeded. And too long. It really almost felt like a “previously, on X TV show” except running half the length of the TV episode. And a lot of it could be done throughout the film in a better way. And along with that…only tens of thousands of people died? Not to sound harsh but… that’s incredibly lucky if it really destroyed so much of large cities.
 
Next, there was not enough about the loss of the pilot with Marshal Pentecost (I don’t even remember his name…but the son). Now Pentecost giving his life wasn’t that bad—it’s a cliché, and they didn’t do anything new with it, but it’s understandable he would have done that vs., say, going out the way Walter White did and becoming a drug lord).
 
But then you have the son to think about. He’s just dead. It wasn’t so bad they had the “I’m dying so I’ll sacrifice my life” cliché, but the bad part was that it wasn’t fulfilling at all (plus, again, the other guy that died). Pentecost sacrifices himself, but forces the young man to sacrifice with him, and there was never any time to care about him. He was mean until he immediately became a nice guy before he died.
 
Which brings me to the next completely unneeded cliché: The bully character. We already have the Kaiju—we really don’t need a bully character, especially one that suddenly becomes a good guy at the end and sacrifices himself (and especially one who just...wasn't a good bully--he was just annoying, and not in a good way). It just provided a lot of unneeded and awkward tension.
 
Next: who thought of building a wall? That just sounds like a stupid idea. Waste of time and money. And people were completely not upset enough when the first one was destroyed so quickly. Yeah, some builders were shouting, but that’s not enough.
 
Lastly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the main character, Raleigh. I wish Mako had been, especially since she’s really the only female character (I don’t think the female Russian is even named, but even if so, she’s only there in passing. Kinda sad).
 
There’s a lot of other various nitpicky things, but those are the main things that bugged me. Actually, one more: the walking in the ocean thing always bugged me. Because at one point one of them rises from under the ocean, but then when he’s out of the water, when he’s “standing”, the water is to his knees/waist. So how are they walking in water, without touching the sea floor?
 
But one thing cannot be ignored: Pacific Rim is just so awesomely cool. It was. It was freaking giant robots fighting giant monsters, for crying out loud. But it was also disappointing. Best or deepest movie ever? Haha, right. But it was decent. More than decent, really, as it was really enjoyable.
 
Great things about Pacific Rim:
  • Mako characterization. Man, this was awesome. She really should have been the main character, because her backstory was so much better (and actually terrifying/moving)
  • Idris Elba. Basically everything about him—having him in the film was perhaps the best decision made. His speech was great, and his presence on the film was great.
  • Bo Staff fighting. That scene was awesome.
  • Using a ship as a baseball bat. One of the greatest scenes of the film.
And of course:
  • Giant robots punching giant monsters. Seriously, that’s just awesome.
 
So no, this isn’t the greatest movie of all time, unfortunately—at least not in my opinion. But it was still pretty great, and incredibly enjoyable, and I’d watch it again in a heartbeat. I don’t buy many new DVDs, but this one I did because despite all the problems I had with it, and how bad I thought it was at times…I really, really want to watch more. Like I said, it’s really enjoyable. It’s robots fighting monsters. I just wish it had more, since there were so many opportunities to make it an amazing film, rather than just a really fun to watch one.


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Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Posted by Velox , in Literature, Other, Reviews, Top Ten Tuesday Jan 11 2014 · 145 views
books, reading, top ten, 2013
This year is definitely the best year book-wise for me. I don’t rate many novels five stars on Goodreads—I try to save that rating for only books that are the best of the best, and as such, I end up rating most books only 4 stars, even if they may be more of 9/10 or 9.5/10, instead of 5. But this year, every single book on this list was a 5-star book, more than I’ve ever had before. But I can still rank them fairly easily (much more easily than the top ten film list), so here it goes.
 

Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

 
  • The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’m ashamed and saddened that I hadn’t read this until this past summer. Though, I’m not entirely sure that’s accurate. I definitely started reading Fellowship a couple times, and I feel like I may have gotten farther than that once, but I simply can’t remember. I do know that I was read the trilogy as a young kid, but I don’t count that as reading either (nor do I remember it). So either way, since I don’t remember how much I read, I consider this my first read. And it was amazing—definitely a book I’ll be reading many times. The last two pages of “A Siege of Gondor” are honestly my two favorite pages I have ever read—so beautifully and chillingly written. Not that I expected any different from Tolkien, but still. I loved this book, and it’s definitely my favorite book I read this year.
  • The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. I really wish I could say this was my favorite book this year, because this book was so amazing to read, but then I read LotR over the summer. =P This book is so fascinating, though. If I had to describe it in one word, I’d probably say “magical”—because that’s really what it is. This book, more than any I have ever read, really takes me away from the real world to become immersed in the world she creates with the circus. This novel isn’t fast-paced by any means. It does have a lot of descriptions, but the descriptions are such a joy to read that, to me, it didn’t matter. I wouldn’t compare the writing style to Tolkien, but they are similar in that they both have a lot of description, and do so incredibly well (though differently). This book, more than most, made me want to ignore so many things in order to just stay absorbed in the world of the circus. Highly recommended.
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman. I read this book in a single day. It’s not long, so that’s not surprising, but still—I don’t think I even took a break, because of how engrossing this story was. To put it simply, this book is amazing. Gaiman has shown his brilliance time and again (and unfortunately I have not read nearly as much of him as I need to), but this book was particularly striking. From living in books (something I can definitely relate to), to nostalgia and reflection, all wrapped around an underlying fantasy setting, Gaiman portrays the hardship of life, remembering, relationships, discovery, vulnerability, and more in a truly wonderful short novel. Definitely recommended.
  • The Prestige, by Christopher Priest. After seeing the amazing film by Christopher Nolan, I knew I had to read the book. Sure, Nolan is my favorite director, but still—this film was simply amazing. And after reading The Night Circus, which also has magicians, I really knew I had to read this book, and began frantically looking for it at used bookstores. It’s definitely a lot different from the film, but that’s one of the things I loved—both were amazing, and neither spoiled the other, either. I honestly can’t decide which I like better, but the book was great, and one of my favorite books this year.
  • A Storm of Swords, by George R.R. Martin. This whole series is fantastic, and each book is 5-star worthy. But this book in particular stands out, and for anyone who read it can probably relate. There were several different times where I practically ran to the computer to talk to GSR and/or Tolkien to talk to them over Skype about things that I had just read (in fact at one point Tolkien was just like “I’ll see you in 10 minutes” aaaand yeah. Intense stuff). There’s some content I don’t like, but overall Martin does an incredible job, and I cannot wait to read A Dance with Dragons.
  • The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster. Children’s books really can be the best sometimes. Harry Potter, Narnia, this, A Monster Calls, Holes, etc. There were so many clever phrases throughout, and a fun adventure with enjoyable characters. I may have read this a long time ago, too, but if so I don’t remember it, unfortunately. At least I finally read it this year, and it was fantastic.
  • Holes, by Louis Sachar. Yet another book I’m surprised I hadn’t read until this year (I must be one of the only people who didn’t read it in middle school, as my brother and sister did), but a very enjoyable one. I couldn't put it down, starting it one night and finishing it the next morning. Every character was round and unique, a hard thing to accomplish when you're dealing with so many, and the plot was fun and exciting. Overall, it was simply a very enjoyable, easy-to-read, and fun book. Highly recommended in case there's anyone else out there that hasn't read it. I'll definitely have to look into more of Sachar's work. Not a bad film, either.
  • S., by J.J. Abrams & Doug Dorst. This is quite possibly the most fun I’ve had reading a book. Reading the conversation between the two young people (like a play), reading each of the inserts, feeling like a part of the discovery—it really was just simply fun. Unfortunately, though, the book itself (“The Ship of Theseus”) was not as good as I had hoped. Not that it was bad, but it wasn’t completely amazing, either. Perhaps I built it up too much, but in the end, I was left feeling slightly disappointed. That said, it was still a 5-star book for me, because of how fun it was to read, even if the novel itself may not have been 5-stars alone.
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini. This was heartbreaking. Perhaps the best words for it would be from the New York Times Book Review: Powerful & haunting. Because it was definitely both of those. The Kite Runner made the reader care—left an impression in the reader. Haunted the reader with the reality depicted within. Horrible, heart-wrenching things happened, but they happened to characters you cared about. Characters you cared about did despicable things—but they realized they had done wrong. The Kite Runner opens your eyes to the world, the harshness of life, yet the beauty that remains even through that harshness. The good that still exists through the bad. The Kite Runner is a beautiful but haunting book. Not for the faint of heart, but an amazing book, worth reading, I think, at least once.
  • A Study in Scarlet, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The first Sherlock Holmes novel I’ve read (I’ve read a lot of the short stories before), and it didn’t disappoint. I’m still planning to make my way through every single SH story, as I have a leather-bound Complete Sherlock Holmes Collection, so I’m going to read them all in order, too. I had hoped to read the first set of short stories by now, but haven’t yet. Still, though, I look forward to doing so, as I loved this (and The Sign of Four so much).
 
Runner-Up: American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Perhaps I liked this better than one of the last couple books (hard to decide…), but I already had a Gaiman book on here so I’ll just leave this as the runner-up. Still, it was really an amazing book, and even though I liked Ocean a lot more, I still loved this one, and would definitely read it again. I really look forward to reading more of Gaiman’s work.
 
 

Books I’m looking forward most to reading next year:

 
  • More Than This, by Patrick Ness (currently reading, actually—I started it and read over half of it yesterday).
  • A Dance with Dragons, by George R.R. Martin. Been waiting for when I have some free time to read this—I’m hoping that’s this week.
  • 11 Doctors, 11 Stories, by various authors (including Patrick Ness, Neil Gaiman, and Eoin Colfer). It’s Doctor Who and all these awesome authors. I’m hoping it lives up to all the hype I’m giving it.
  • Skin Game, by Jim Butcher. One of my favorite authors, and Harry Dresden is one of my all-time favorite characters.
  • Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card. My sister keeps saying how I have to read it, but more than that I just really want to, because of how much praise it’s gotten (and it sounds interesting). Plus, I need to read more great Sci-Fi. I’m also excited to read Hart’s Hope, because I love stand-alone fantasy books and I’ve heard this one is amazing.
  • The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Just ordered this from Amazon, so I’ll probably be reading it soon.
  • Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, by Matt Fraction. Thanks to the recommendation of Chocolate Frogs, I recently bought this from Amazon, too. I also hope to get Sandman, Vol. 1 soon, but I decided to get Hawkeye first because I really want to read a superhero graphic novel.
  • Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn. I’m really excited to finally read some of her work, and I promised myself I’d read her first two before I read Gone Girl, which is the book I’m particularly excited to read, especially because David Fincher is directing the film based off of it.
  • The Gods of Guilt, by Michael Connelly. I love Connelly’s work, and I haven’t read a thriller in a while. Plus, my hardback copy is signed, and somehow that makes me more excited to read the book.
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling, by J.K. Rowling. I’m really excited to finally read this, as I love Rowling’s writing. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of The Casual Vacancy, I still really enjoyed the writing style, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she does with a mystery novel. Speaking of mystery novels, I’m also really looking forward to reading The Second Death, by Caleb Peiffer; and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, by Conan Doyle (the first set of short stories).
 


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Top Ten Films I Saw in 2013

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Other Jan 08 2014 · 180 views

So, this list includes both 2013 releases and films that I saw for the first time in 2013, since I don’t think I’ve even seen 10 2013 films. Still, I saw a lot of new films that came out earlier, and I was really impressed with the films I did see that came out this year, so I decided to make just one list.
 

Top Ten Films I Saw for the First Time in 2013
 

  • Saving Mr. Banks, by John Lee Hancock. I’m really surprised this is #1 on my list, but I saw this right as 2013 closed and was very pleasantly surprised. It’s really one of the greater movies I’ve seen, and both hilarious and heartbreaking.
  • Following, by Christopher Nolan. Never saw this film until this year, unfortunately, but it really is an amazing movie. Especially considering the incredibly low budget. Will be talking more about why I loved it when I rank Nolan’s films soon.
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, by Peter Jackson. I had some issues with this movie—more than An Unexpected Journey—but at the same time, the movie as a whole was fantastic, and I enjoyed it more than AUJ. I’ve had a review half-written for a while, so I’ll hopefully post that soon.
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey—Extended Edition, by Peter Jackson. So I’m a sucker for Middle-Earth. But I did really enjoy this film.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness, by J.J. Abrams. I really enjoyed this, particularly Benedict Cumberbatch.
  • Serenity, by Joss Whedon. I love this film, and it’s a great end to a great series that really shouldn’t’ve ended. If I were to rate the series as a whole, including this as a “final episode”, if you will, it’d be higher, but as a film on its own it was still pretty amazing. In fact, if I were to rate it completely separately from the series, it might be between 8-10 on this list, but because of the series and the characters that I had grown to love, it's hard for me to rate this film objectively and alone from the series. I do have to wonder how much less I would have enjoyed it if I had not seen the series first.
  • The Raven, by James McTeigue. This hasn’t gotten very high ratings, but I personally really, really enjoyed it. It’s a little hard for me to rank, so I’m just gonna leave it here before I change my mind again and put it under Catching Fire or Man of Steel (though it definitely wouldn’t be lower than Pacific Rim).
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, by Francis Lawrence. Quite impressed with this—makes me look forward to Mockingjay: Part 1. Not quite sure I agree with their decision to split it into two movies, though, but with the quality that Catching Fire gave, I’m hopeful.
  • Man of Steel, by Zack Snyder. So there’s definitely some issues with this film, but overall I really enjoyed it, and I’m not entirely sure it should be this low but eh. I am concerned about Batman vs. Superman, and I hope it can be better than MoS.
  • Pacific Rim, by Guillermo del Toro. Not a bad film, though not as good as I expected either. Still, it was definitely visually stunning, and giant robots fighting giant monsters? Count me in. I’ve had a half-written review of this done for a while now, too, so I’ll hopefully post that soon too. I may be forgetting some pre-2013 film I saw for the first time this year that was better than this, but I did enjoy this and it came out this year so eh.
Runner-Up: Olympus has Fallen. The only film that came out this year that’s not on this list, but it was close—this isn’t an amazing film by any means, but it gave me exactly what I expected and wanted from a film like this.
 
Worst film I saw this year: Transformers: Dark of the Moon
 
Films I haven’t seen that came out this year, but want to and would definitely have competed for a spot on this list: Iron Man 3, Thor 2, The Wolverine, The Great Gatsby, Frozen, Lone Survivor, Gravity, Ender’s Game, Escape Plan, The Book Thief…Yeah, I haven’t seen as many 2013 films as I would’ve liked, unfortunately (though then again, the only films I saw in theaters this year were Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit, Catching Fire, and Man of Steel, so I’ll see the rest of these eventually). I wonder how different this list would be if I just ranked the top ten 2013 films, including those. Anyway:
 

Top films I’m looking forward to next year (inspired by iBrow’s blog entry):

  • Interstellar, by Christopher Nolan. Nolan’s my favorite director, and as usual for his work, this film sounds amazing.
  • Captain America: Winter Soldier, by Anthony & Joe Russo. Captain America is probably my favorite superhero (tied with Batman), so I’m really looking forward to this.
  • The Hobbit: There and Back Again, by Peter Jackson. Cannot wait to see the end of the trilogy.
  • Gone Girl, by David Fincher. Fincher is one of my favorite directors, and while I haven’t read the book yet (hopefully will soon), it sounds really good.
  • Mockingjay: Part 1, by Francis Lawrence. Catching Fire left me with high hopes.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past, by Bryan Singer.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy, by James Gunn.
  • The Amazing Spiderman 2, by Marc Webb. Wasn’t a huge fan of the first one, but the trailer for this one looks good.
  • Noah, by Darren Aronofsky. Looks like it may be really good, and it has some great actors in it (Watson, Crowe, Hopkins…).
  • Godzilla, by Gareth Edwards. Looks promising.
Next up: Books.


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Platonish

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Other Nov 14 2013 · 216 views
HIMYM, characterization, sit-coms

“Platonish”

And Why It Was Such a Great Episode

(some spoilers to follow) 

 
“Platonish,” season nine, episode nine of How I Met Your Mother, is my favorite episode in HIMYM’s recent history. Without a doubt it’s my favorite episode so far this season (and apparently I’m not alone in thinking that, either, as it’s the highest rated episode so far this season on IMDb), and it’s one of my favorites from the past couple seasons.
 
There’s been a few disappointing episodes the last couple seasons of HIMYM. Not that they were horrible by any means, but they weren’t—in my opinion—quite up to the quality that so many episodes have been in the past (and I definitely am not as disappointed with recent seasons as I know some people are—I’ve always enjoyed every single episode, even if occasionally not as much as others).
 
That changed last Monday. “Platonish” is really the epitome of why HIMYM is the great show that it is. It brought me back to past HIMYM episodes and seasons, and the reason why HIMYM is so amazing.
 
It brought many laughs, and it also brought me close to tears. Which is the thing I have always loved about HIMYM—it’s not always just about the comedy, but it’s about the story—their story. The comedy isn’t the most important part, it’s the characters. Which leads me to the next thing that was so great about this episode: the characterization.
 
HIMYM does such a great job of characterization—especially in past episodes/seasons—and I was so relieved and overjoyed to see that again in this episode (not that it was completely absent in recent episodes, but I felt at times it wasn’t as good as it’s been in the past). For the first time, we really get a great look into the character of The Mother. We know some of her awesome interests, we know how she gets along with Ted, we know some of the things she likes and hobbies she has…but we’ve never really known her—not until now. This episode shows us what an amazing person she is.
 
She does an amazing thing for Barney, and you can just see the level of her care for other human beings—he’s a complete stranger, and she could just go “get away from me, creep” or something to that effect (which would be totally justified, especially since she heard him call her a “target”), but she doesn’t. She decided to help him.
 
Which really just speaks volumes about her character. It’s easy to push people away who you think are weird or acting wrongly. It’s easy to just ignore someone and later talk behind their back about how troubling their actions may be or something like that. And that’s exactly what she could have done. She could have gone home to her boyfriend, tell him how she met someone that troubled her today (or even not mention him at all), and just go on with her life.
 
But she doesn’t. She doesn’t judge him or condemn him—she helps him. She sees that he’s having troubles, that he’s hurting, and she tells him what he desperately needed to hear, and you can see where he is now, in a large way due to her.
 
This is really where HIMYM differs from other sit-coms. It’s not just about crude jokes and bringing in laughs from the audience. It’s about the characters and their stories. And, on top of that, it’s (overall) a lighthearted show (it is, after all, a comedy), which makes it just simply fun to watch like a comedy should be. But it’s so much more than that, too.
 
And if that wasn’t enough this episode, we got Hammond Druthers back again. It’s no secret that Brian Cranston is an amazing actor—if you’ve seen just a single episode of Breaking Bad you know this—and he definitely doesn’t disappoint here. His character is always a great addition to the story, and in this episode particularly.
 
Now, at the end, Ted’s character is still basically where we left off, but I didn’t have an issue with that—it was mostly one big flashback, and this time it was mostly about Barney and The Mother, and it gave us so much of them.
 
Overall, I thought this episode was amazing. It wasn’t perfect—not at all—but it had some great moments, and it had, essentially, everything that makes HIMYM such a great show: funny moments, heartbreaking moments, serious moments, amazing characterization, and great guest stars. 


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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Extended Edition

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Other Nov 11 2013 · 374 views

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Gallery of images here.

 
So Friday evening the extended edition of An Unexpected Journey came. That night I skipped NaNoWriMo and watched the film. Saturday and Sunday I watched the Appendices, and Sunday night I re-watched the film again. (Also quick note: this is the DVD version, so number of disks may differ between this and Blu-Ray/3D/etc.)
 
Man, I love this movie (original review here--my opinion hasn't changed all that much, though overall I think I actually like the film better than I did when I first saw it). Unfortunately I haven't seen it in about a year, because I didn't want to purchase the DVD until the extended edition came out. But it was definitely worth the wait! 
 
The extended/new scenes are great bonuses, just as they were in LOTR (I actually hadn't seen the theatrical versions of LOTR until after I had seen the extended editions about a billion times, and I always felt like so much was missing). It's perfectly understandable why these were not included in the theatrical version, but I'm so glad they were put in for the extended editions.
 
Of course, similar to the movie, if one is expecting the book of The Hobbit exactly, you'll be disappointed. But what I love about Peter Jackson's Hobbit is that he explores many details of Tolkien's world and tries to bridge the gap between The Hobbit and LOTR. Is it necessary? Not at all, or else Tolkien would have done it that way. But I do think it's incredibly fun and interesting to see things fleshed out more. I know the story of the book well, so it's just great to be able to see Jackson's adaptation, including the addition of things created by Tolkien and things Jackson and his team created--again, it is, after all, an adaptation, and in my mind, a great one. 
 
A brief breakdown of the extended scenes:
  • More of Erebor. You get to see a little more of Erebor and its wealth, as well as more tension between the Dwarves and the Elves--an offering of gems is made to King Thranduil, but taken away once he tries to take it. 
  • Slightly more of Smaug. Not much at all, and I didn't even notice this edition until I read it on another site, but you do see an extremely quick flash of his silhouetted body. Which, on that note, this is one thing that I never minded when seeing the movie--a lot of people wanted to see more of Smaug, but I actually liked this choice better. I definitely wanted to see more of Smaug because of how excited I was to see him, but in this scene, the unseen Smaug works better, in my opinion. But to each his own.
  • More of Hobbiton. This was one of my favorite additions--we get to see quite a bit more of Hobbiton (which is now permanently built into the hills in New Zealand--I definitely need to visit that before I die). We see a party much like Bilbo's birthday party in Fellowship but this time Bilbo is a child, and at one point hits Gandalf with a wooden sword, which is completely adorable. Later, you see Biblo walking through the marketplace in Hobbiton as he's shopping and trying to avoid Gandalf. I love Hobbiton, and having these scenes was great.
  • Probably more of the Dwarves in Bilbo's house. I couldn't tell you what they were, but the scene did feel slightly longer--perhaps just my imagination. 
  • A lot more of Rivendell. All very short scenes, but there's quite a few of them. There's more of the Dwarves eating, including one of my now-favorite scenes where Bofur stands up on the table (quite rudely) and starts singing a pub song (which is actually a song from The Fellowship of the Ring that Frodo sings, who says he learned it from Bilbo. I believe it's Jackson who explains in the Appendices that it's up to the viewer to decide if Bilbo learned it after Bofur sung it, or if Bilbo had taught it to Bofur before--I like both ideas, really). I just love songs like this, and hope to see more in the next two movies. You also see more of Bilbo exploring Rivendell (including looking at the image of Sauron fighting Isuldur behind the shards of Narsil that you see in Fellowship). You also hear Elrond and Gandalf discuss the quest, and the White Council scene is extended as well.
  • The Goblin King. This is quite possibly my favorite new scene, because the Great Goblin sings a song based on the text in the book. It really adds a bit to his (and the goblins as a whole) character, and on top of that it's just a really fun song. It's out of tune and very goblin-y and torture-filled, but I still loved it. "Down in the Deep of Goblin Town." There's various other small bits added to the goblin scenes, too. 
  • There may have been a little more of the pale orc, but I can't remember anything specifically. Probably a few other small scenes I missed. 
I'm really only disappointed with two things:
 
1. That the "Riddles in the Dark" were not extended. There's more in the book, and I completely understand only having the ones they did in the theatrical version, but I just wish more had been added in the extended edition. This was my single favorite scene of the whole movie (I mean seriously, Andy Serkis just did such a supurbly amazing and fantastic job--Martin Freeman, too), and I would love to have seen a longer version. Ah, well; and
 
2. I wish that the "Misty Mountains" song was extended. The song in the book is much longer, and I just absolutely love the melody in the movie. I wish they could have made it longer. 
 
 
One thing that I thought was a little funny was how the extended edition is kind of similar to the Fellowship extended editions. Both mark their half-way points (Disk 2) in Rivendell, both have the cast running from goblins in the second half of the film, both start with Hobbiton. . . . Not a bad thing at all, IMO, but yeah. 
 
Overall, I love the extended scenes in An Unexpected Journey, and I still love the movie as a whole. I still couldn't help to feel that some of the time the digital effects were a little much. I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but LOTR just felt so real to me, and in The Hobbit, some things seem more obviously digital. Maybe it's just nostalgia or something, but yeah. 
 
The movie also seems to have a constant struggle between being a kid's movie and not. The movie is by far much darker than the book, which I didn't mind, but there's also moments that it seems so close to the feel of the book that it feels much more kid-ish. LOTR seemed to have a much more consistent tone throughout the movie. It had light-hearted (Hobbiton, for example) and comedic moments, yet those scenes didn't seem to change the overall tone at all as it sometimes did in The Hobbit
 
I also would have loved to have more focus on the dwarves individually. Viewing the Appendices, you can see just how much detail and depth they went into creating individual personalities for every dwarf, but I didn't feel like enough of that went into the film. Yeah, they're still more fleshed out than they were in the book overall, but just knowing how much work they put in to making each dwarf a singular character, it made me want even more for them to be more individualized. However, considering the sheer numbers, I do have to commend them for the job that they did, because that's an extremely hard thing to do. Doesn't mean I don't wish they could've been fleshed out slightly more, though, especially in the extended edition (which they were, but I wanted even more =P). 
 
I still wish the dwarves could've had their colored hoods and instruments, I still wish the troll scene could have been a little closer to the book (though I do like some of the changes they made), I still wish the stone giants were just in the distance (though this doesn't bother me too much at all), I still wish the tree scene at the end would've been different . . . but overall I do love the film, especially the extended edition. 
 
I have yet to watch the film commentaries, but I suspect I will soon enough--the Appendices, as I've said, were really great to watch, though.
 
Part 7 (which is actually two disks, instead of the usual one--parts 1-6 were covered in LOTR) is titled "A Long-Expected Journey" and covers a lot of pre-production; includes a great introduction where Jackson explains how the film came to be and how he came to be director once again; the actors' boot camp and various other training; the shooting of the film and the various sets; pick-up shooting; and more. 
 
Part 8, "Return to Middle-Earth" further details the development, design, and production of The Hobbit, and explores in-depth the background of the main characters and the casting for said characters. There's a section on creating the dwarves as a whole, and how Jackson wanted to do for the dwarves what Tolkien did for the elves, and really go in-depth to their past and history and life. It also shows the concepts, creation, and design of the various sets (both physical and digital), and lastly, there's a look at the songs of The Hobbit. 
 
The first disk of the movie also has "New Zealand: Home of Middle-Earth" which is a cool look into the various places in NZ that were used for the film. 
 
I always loved watching the Appendices to LOTR, and The Hobbit was no different. I would definitely recommend this five-disk set--the extended edition of the film is amazing, and all the special features/appendices are just really great and interesting, too.
 
And now, back to NaNo. . . .
 
~ Velox


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The Hobbit Review

Posted by Velox , in Reviews Jan 07 2013 · 254 views
The Hobbit, Movie Review, Review and 1 more...

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So I saw The Hobbit the day after it came out in theaters, and I’ve been meaning to write a review since. This review will contain some slight spoilers, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I’d wait to read this entry until then.
 
I want to start off with saying that the book is fantastic – it’s a perfect kid’s fairy-tale-type-book, but then again, that’s not surprising, considering Tolkien wrote it. However, the movie is not the book – not exactly, anyway. Of course this was completely expected, and I personally didn’t have a problem with it. But if you’re expecting it to be the book line-by-line, you’ll be disappointed. 
 
That said, it is “the movie” – it fits in very nicely with the LOTR movies, and is a great prologue to the trilogy. Half of me wants them to release a “book version” (basically, cut out all the extra scenes, change some of the changes slightly to better fit the book, etc.). I realize this is improbable, but I still think it’d be cool. Don’t get me wrong, I love the movie, and I’m sure I’ll love the extended edition, too. I just think it’d be awesome to have both; a “book version” and a “movie version.” But yeah, that’s not going to happen. =P Anyway, it's also obviously a lot darker, but that's to be expected -- I wasn't disappointed with that bit. 
 
Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins is the absolute perfect choice. He was completely fantastic, and is the perfect, perfect Bilbo (and Watson, for that matter). His whole part was extremely well-done, and I loved every one of his scenes. Ian McKellen, too, did a supurb job. Of course all of the other actors did too, but I thought that they, particularly, did an outstanding job.
 
But of course that list of “outstanding jobs” would not be complete if I didn’t include Andrew Serkis in that list. His performance as Gollum was absolutely amazing, and was one of the best parts about the whole movie. The Riddles scene was very well-done (sure, some slight inconsistencies like there being more light than there should be, but again…this is the movie, so that didn’t really bother me. And the riddles themselves were fantastically done – I’m really hoping all of them are included in the extended edition).
 
Back to the movie itself, the beginning was absolutely fantastic. Yes, I’ve probably said “absolutely fantastic” or some variation of a dozen times already, but I don’t care – because it’s true. The history of the Lonely Mountain was done extremely well, and I loved how you saw Smaug but at the same time…you didn’t (if you saw the movie you’ll understand what I’m saying =P). On that note, everything about Smaug was well-done. Sure, I wish we could’ve seen him in this movie, but at the same time, I think they built him up spectacularly, and I’m sure the second part of the trilogy will be amazing with him.
 
The very beginning narration with Ian Holm and the tie-in to LOTR was also extremely well-done. I really, really enjoyed this, and the first…30 minutes or so all together, with Bilbo and Frodo and later Bilbo the Younger. As implied, I really liked how they tied this movie into Ian Holm telling Frodo about his adventure, the switching to Martin Freeman. And I liked how for the first part with Martin Freeman, some lines were copied directly from the book. I had just read the book a few days before, so it was cool seeing that.
 
The dwarves were over-all well-done. I had some concerns about them at first, but after seeing the movie I was pleased with their performance. I do wish they could’ve had their instruments and their coloured hoods, but their “That’s What Bilbo Baggins Hates!” song was very well done. Even more so was the Misty Mountains song – that was just simply fantastic, and one of the best parts of the movie. Which, speaking of, the whole soundtrack was extremely well-done. Of course, that was expected with Howard Shore, but still. I can’t wait to buy the Deluxe Version at some point.
 
As for the Azog inclusion…I guess I both liked and disliked that. Obviously it’s not true to the book, but I liked how there was a single antagonistic character for the dwarves and Bilbo. I also thought that Azog was very well-done, himself, and seemed to be a cool character. At the same time, I think they could’ve gone slightly more in-depth with him. Sometimes it seemed like he was placed in simply so there was an “enemy” for the company. The inclusion of the Necromancer, too, was cool, and I definitely look forward to Cumberbatch playing him in future films (who is, of course, a perfect Sherlock as well). And I thought most of Rivendell was well-done. I also liked Radagast for the most part. 
 
The troll scene was obviously different from the book, which I both liked and disliked. The personalities were very well done, but I kind of wish Gandalf would have done his voices trick. At the same time, I understand having to introduce Bilbo as the “hero” early on, since they’re dragging it out to three, three-hour-long movies.
 
I was very pleased with the portrayal of the goblin king. I was interested to see how they would do that, and I think they pulled it off well. His death, however, not so much. In fact, it was rather lame, unfortunately. Which is really too bad, considering I liked the rest of him. Oh well. But on that note, I didn’t like the front porch scene. I really wish they would’ve kept truer to the book here (I liked how there was a crack in the wall, and the ponies disappeared, etc., rather than the movie version). Oh, well.
 
The stone giants, too, was a little over-done. I really liked it, up until the point that they were stuck on the giant’s legs. That just went overboard, and wasn’t necessary. I wish they would’ve kept it off to the distance – have them dodging boulders, sure, but to be actually on a giant was a little much. 
 
And lastly, the ending could’ve been done better. The very, very end was done well, I think, in the sense that it was a good way/place to stop it (I hope that the eagles speak in the second movie, though). But the tree scene was…disappointing. Of course you had to have the dramatic Thorin and Azog (which wasn’t even done all that well, unfortunately). The idea itself wouldn’t’ve been too bad if it were done a little differently, I think. Even Bilbo saving him, I can see how that’d be useful to develop Bilbo’s character. But it just wasn’t executed as well as it could’ve been. And the falling trees and domino effect was even worse. I have to say I was disappointed with that. Oh, well. 
 
This was the first time I had seen a 3D movie, and I think it worked well here. Also the sped-up frames-per-minute was kind of cool. I didn’t really notice it all that much, but coupled with the 3D at times it definitely worked well. I’ve heard some people say that the movie seemed too long, but personally I didn’t think so, and I was happy with the length (in fact, I was surprised it was over all ready when it was – didn’t seem like nearly three hours).
 
Overall, The Hobbit was a great movie, and I’d highly recommend it. Sure, there were other small little problem I had with it (mostly from differences between the movie and book), but overall it was amazing, especially if it’s looked at as a prologue to the movies more than an exact movie-version of the book. Peter Jackson did well, and I look forward to the Extended Edition and the next two movies. 
 
~ Velox


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A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Literature Dec 03 2012 · 179 views
Confederacy, Dunces, John Toole and 2 more...

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A Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole
ISBN: 0802130208
Publisher: Grove Press
Release Date: January 21st 1994
Rating: 2/5
Synopsis: Set in New Orleans, A Confederacy of Dunces outswifts Swift, one of whose essays gives the book its title. As its characters burst into life, they leave the region and literature forever changed by their presences – Ignatius and his mother; Miss Trixie, the octogenarian assistant accountant at Levy Pants; inept, wan Patrolman Mancuso; Darlene, the Bourbon Street stripper with a penchant for poultry; Jones, the jivecat in space-age dark glasses. Satire and farce animate A Confederacy of Dunces; tragic awareness ennobles it.
Review: (Review from [Book Reviewing Site])

 
I’m honestly not sure why this is considered such a great book by some people. The only reason that I finished it is that I had to for one of my college English classes, but otherwise I probably wouldn’t've (and I hate leaving books unfinished, even if they’re not very good). At almost no point in the story does the plot, characters, writing style or setting grip my attention. Ignatius, the main character, is perhaps slightly interesting at first, but it gets to the point where it’s just too ridiculous and frankly boring — it all gets old quick.

As I alluded to above, however, there were some parts toward the beginning where Ignatius was an interesting character. In fact, the book itself had some promise to it, but soon it was apparent that this book would be nothing more than mediocre at best.

This is also supposed to be an extremely funny book — I didn’t feel that. The only thing I felt was that Ignatius (and, every character, really) is just so ridiculous that it’s not believable. It’s not funny any more because you don’t believe that anyone could ever act like that. At least I don’t. While the characters are all distinctly different — something usually that is good — they are different to extremes. Whatever they are, they are that to the very extreme. And it really hurts the book.
 
Furthermore, it just epitomizes a lazy, whiny, and very un-funny main character. You’re not left laughing at Ignatius’ actions. You’re left wanting to slap him (and in a bad way -- not in the "author-did-a-good-job-making-you-hate-him" way, because he's supposed to be funny, even if he's not likable) because of his laziness, stupidity, or just overall annoying habits and mannerisms. Ignatius is not a fun, lovable character. And he’s not a despicable character in the good way, either — as in, some characters you’re meant to hate, they’re meant to annoy you, and if an author pulls that off, it’s a great feat. This, however, is not that either. What you have here is some weird medium where you think you’re supposed to like him and think he’s funny, yet you really hate him at the same time. Additionally, Ignatius is never really well-characterized. At the end of the novel I’m left with only the facts that he’s an extremely lazy, whiny, dependent man who wouldn’t last on his own for more than a week at best. And again, not in some funny or good way, but in a way that is just simply not entertaining at all. It's not just about the character being someone who's not likable, but it's about the fact that it tries too hard at humor, as if it was trying to prove its hilarity. There was almost none.
 
I’ve wrestled with whether or not to give this one star or two. One star doesn’t seem quite fair, as the book isn’t horrible, and the writing is by no means bad (just not all that enjoyable — but then again, not the least-enjoyable thing I’ve read, either). I’m kinda iffy on this whole star system in general — most of my 5 stars would actually be 4.5, because I believe that hardly any book is perfect and worth a perfect score. Yet 4 (or if you double it, 8/10 — a “B” if it were a college paper) is too low. So I ended up giving it a two — I didn’t like it, but it was -okay- (note to BZP members: This site's rating system says "I didn't like it" for one star, and "it was okay" for two stars -- hence my middle-ground).
 
Overall I just simply cannot highly recommend this book. It’s not horrible, no, but I definitely wouldn’t call it great or even good. John Kennedy Toole, while a promising author, took things too far every time. And it’s sad, really, because the idea behind this book could probably be something great, but it was simply taken way too far, exaggerated so much that the story started to lose credibility, leading to the ultimate dissatisfaction I felt with the book.
 
~ Velox


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The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Posted by Velox , in Reviews, Literature Aug 23 2012 · 308 views
Book Review, The Book Thief and 1 more...

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The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
ISBN: 0375842209
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf
Release Date: 2005
Rating: 5/5


A fantastic story about a little girl living in Germany during World War II, her parents gone and her brother dead. She takes comfort from her foster parents, most especially from her foster-father, an extremely kind man who gives up sleep -- and himself -- for this little girl, Liesel Meminger. She gains a great love for words, books, and writing as her acordion-playing foster-father helps her to learn how to read, so much so that she steals books from wherever possible, even Nazi book-burnings. Through the struggling of learning to read, surviving during this horrible time, gaining friends, and obtaining material for her to read, The Book Thief tells the fantastic story of Liesel Meminger.

The Book Thief, as much as anything else, is a book about people. The characters of The Book Thief are quite extraordinary, and certainly make the novel great. Liesel, of course, the main character to whom much sympathy is given. Seeing all of these events through the eyes of a nine-year-old (and up to fourteen years old as the novel progresses), is really quite amazing, and definitely emotionally moving. This story as a whole really gives you a unique look on World War II and the Germans -- it forces you to realize, whether you did before this book or not, that not all were bad. Liesel and her family prove this. WWII was a terrible thing, and horrible things happened to people on both sides -- all the more reason why it's important to remember that not every simply supported Hitler and the things he did, even if they were German. This book helps you realize that.

My favorite character, perhaps, would be "Papa" -- Hans Hubermann. A fantastically portrayed father-figure for Liesel, he's really quite the extraordinary man. Waking up every single night for a long period of time in order to comfort Liesel of her nightmares. He'll stay awake for hours, playing the accordion and teaching her how to read. Which is one of the most enjoyable parts of this book. At her brother's death, Liesel picks up a book in the snow, The Gravedigger's Handbook -- the first act of book thievery. With that she begins to read, taught by her Papa and slowly, but definitely surely, becoming better and better to the point that she can read, and read well. Even so well that she is paid in food -- something very scarce for her foster-family -- to read to an old lady. And so it is thanks to her Papa that she becomes the very enjoyable character that she is.

The Book Thief is, without question, a story about a bibliophile and a writer. Perhaps that is why I loved the book so much, as those are two traits that I share with her. Of course, I have it easy. As much as she loves books, she is only able to get them by stealing, as they are otherwise banned. The dedication she has to learning to read and write is simply awesome and inspiring. If she could become a lover of books -- if she could read books at all -- during such horrible times as WWII, then really, no one has an excuse for not reading. Everyone should love and cherish books.

And her Papa helps her with that, always supportive, always giving up time to help her. What I love about Papa is just how great of a man he is. He doesn't care what happens to himself -- as seen when he gives food to a Jewish man, among many, many other instances -- but only cares about helping others. He is a great father-figure, and suffers greatly -- even at the hand of himself -- to help others. One particular moment that I liked is when he is, to put it simply, quite stern with Liesel. He in fact even hits her (something that is not uncommon, but almost never done by Papa -- in fact this may be the only time he does it, I forget), but really, really doesn't like doing so. He wants to just hug her and hold her and tell her everything is okay, but he doesn't. He forces himself to do the right thing in order to protect her and their family. Quite simply, he saved their lives. I don't agree with the fact that he hit her, no, but you also have to realize that times were different then. And even so, I respect him for doing the hard thing as it was for her.

Liesel also develops close relationships with other characters throughout the story. One, Rudy, is her best -- and one of her only -- friend. They spend many hours together, and it was quite enjoyable reading their interactions with each other, the nick names they had (even if they were insults -- that's what made it great), how well they got along, and how badly they got along. Bickering, making fun of each other, getting in arguments, but never anything serious. Always in the way of a great friendship, made greater and stronger by his love for her and later, as she discovers, her love for him as well.

Another great character she becomes close to is Max Vandenburg. An extremely enjoyable character to read about as they also gain a great, great friendship as he lives in their basement (a Jew). The things they do together, the books he writes for her, the presents she gives him when he's sick, all forming together to create something that, again, is simply just very enjoyable, many times putting a smile to my face as I read their interactions.

The last character I want to mention, and one that she shares a strong bond with, albeit in a very, very different way from the previously mentioned character. Not a close friend that she spends a lot of time with, but still someone who Liesel grows close to and someone who is very influential on Liesel, Ilsa Hermann was another great character. She provides Liesel with many of the books she "steal", and as the novel progresses they grow closer and closer, coming to an understanding with each other. Toward the end of the book she gives Liesel perhaps the greatest gift yet -- a blank book with lined paper, the book that Liesel uses to write the story of her life; The Book Thief. At one point it says how "...there would be punishment and pain, and there would be happiness, too. That was writing." Something very true, and it's awesome to be able to relate to such an amazing character that is Liesel.

But the characters aren't the only things that make The Book Thief such an stunning book. Amazingly written, and from Death's perspective, it really is quite unique. I personally loved the format and the way that Death would narrate things -- it gives not only a unique outlook on the story, but a unique outlook on writing in general. Not to mention it reminds you that Death isn't a bad thing -- Death isn't the Devil, after all.

The emotion, as I'm sure you can imagine from a book set during World War II and about a young girl, is definitely heavily-laced throughout the story, but it is quite well done. It had me smiling and on the verge tears many times, a book that struck the heart through both happiness and sadness. The ending especially was simply fantastically written, Very sad, but fantastic all the same.

I am quite surprised that it is considered a children's book -- I can see a Young Adult's book, as I think it is an extremely important book with great messages and great for teens -- but it cannot be ignored that the subject is also not exactly for children. With much minor swearing (and a few not-so-minor occurrences) and the subject matter of WWII, it's definitely not the most kid-friendly or happy read, but all the same, it is amazing.


Overall The Book Thief was an amazing read, and I'm sure it will remain one of my favorite novels. Definitely highly, highly recommended. If you are a bibliophile, a writer, simply someone interested in Nazi Germany, then this book is especially for you -- but really, this book is for everyone.

As the New York Times puts it, "It's the kind of book that can be life changing." Definitely is a life changing book for me – it makes you realize how fortunate you are. I can go to the bookstore and buy any book I want. I can write whenever I want, any time. I can read whenever I want. Liesel didn’t have that luxury, yet she still was determined to read.


(Rantings of Harry Potter to possibly come soon, as I had just finished reading the whole series for the first time before I started The Book Thief on Tuesday)

~ Velox






Welcome To

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NaNoWriMo

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Bzpower Stats

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Bibliophilic Littérateur &
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Group: Premier Forum Assistants
Posts: 11,800+
Joined: 20-September 07
Member No.: 64089

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BZPower Accomplishments ~

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|| Account Approved | Administration | 20th September 2007 ||

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|| Premier Membership | Dimensioneer | 9th January 2008 ||

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|| News Report | Black Six | 13th May 2008 ||

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|| Political Discussion | Omicron | 11th September 2008 ||

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|| Premier Membership | Dimensioneer | 9th January 2009 ||

|| Comedies Critics Club Curator | Hahil Husky | 24th April 2009 ||

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|| Helping Out | Hahli Husky | 24th April 2009 ||

|| Forum Mentor | Black Six | 16th April 2010 ||

|| Short Stories Critics Club Curator | Hahli Husky | 9th August 2010 ||


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|| Forum Assistant | Black Six | 20th February 2012 ||

All About Me

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Name || Andrew
Birthdate || July 8, 1994 (age 19)
Gender || Male
Location || Los Angeles, California
Occupation || College Student
Hobbies || Writing, reading, ranting
Religion || Roman Catholic

Political Views || Conservative (generally Republican)

Favorite...
Standalone Book || A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness; The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak; The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
Authors || Vince Flynn, J.R.R. Tolkien, George R.R. Martin, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, Jim Butcher, Neil Gaiman, Erin Morgenstern, and more

Musical || Les Miserables
Action Trilogy || 
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy.
Fantasy Trilogy || Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings
Sci-Fi/Fantasy Films || The Avengers, Serenity, Inception
Drama Films || A Few Good Men, Warrior
Animated Films || Ratatouille, Madagascar
War Films || Black Hawk Down, Saving Private Ryan
Comedy Film || The Princess Bride
Classic TV Shows || Sherlock Holmes, with Jeremy Brett; Columbo, with Peter Falk; and The Rockford Files, with James Garner

Ended TV Shows || Firefly, Breaking Bad, Leverage
Current TV Shows ~ Sherlock, Castle, HIMYM, Person of Interest, Doctor Who

Music genres || Classical, Film soundtracks, Musicals, Rock, Alternative
Artists || ThePianoGuys, Rise Against, Switchfoot, the Beatles

Composers || Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Howard Shore, Handel

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The Memories of the Trees || ToM Dracone
K's Korner! || Kopakalaka

The Crystal Gardens || ~BlueDiamond~
Death and Rebirth || ChocolateFrogs
Citidel of Ancients || Cederak
Prime Time || ((Primus))
The Emerald Apple || ~GreenBioGuy~
The Motley Array || 55555
The Bones Blog || bonesiii
The Observatory || Argetlam
Blog of a Trumpet Player || Sidorak the Hunter
Squid in a Cordak Blaster || Turakii #1 Lava Surfer
The Bunny's Burrow || Bundalings the Bunny
The Blaze from Beyond || Bioni-Cool Jack
Omi's Rush || Omicron

 

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