Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Sunday Review

This week's movie was Oz: The Great and Powerful in 3-D. Yeah, Eric wanted to see it in the theater, and I actually thought it would be fine to go. I do NOT do well at movies because I usually end up having difficulty with the chairs in the theater and have to move around. This can make me a very frustrating person to sit next to. But I managed to sit mostly still through this entire movie. If I had realized ahead of time it was 130 minutes, I might have gone in worried. But I didn't, and I would have estimated the movie at about a half hour less than that if I had to guess. This is a good thing, by the way. I was clearly interested enough in the movie to not notice the usual pain of sitting in those horrid chairs.

Oz: The Great and Powerful

Right. The movie itself was simply incredible visually. The Kansas scenes were boxed and in black and white, which led to some very interesting 3-D effects during the sequence. The visuals once the Wizard gets to Oz were also very nicely done, at times even overwhelming. This is not a bad thing. I like breathtaking movies if I'm going to bother going to a theater. I felt the 3-D was used effectively throughout the movie.

If the movie fell down anywhere it was in the score. The music just didn't live up to what I was watching, and the loss was felt. A great score is not obvious but adds much to a film. This score didn't intrude, but didn't seem to add much. The Munchkin song was cute, but overall the music seemed lacking, something I never thought I would ever write about an Elfman-scored film.

There were a lot of very good moments and excellent details, tiny things that added up to make an overall positive. I liked seeing a "free" winged monkey (read the books and you'll understand what I mean). I found the cemetery to be a jarring presence in Oz, only because I know a lot about the land of Oz now. Franco was perfect as a womanizing fraud, but I do have a little difficulty imagining him becoming the wizard of the books. And I loved the Tinkers, although there seemed to me to be rather a lot of them compared to the books.

The story was... straightforward. It was a fairly basic plot with just a handful of nice twists to make it not too plain and simple. Without the visuals and extra details the plot would have been too weak. As it was, it only just served. I managed to avoid most spoilers for the movie, except for the biggie about the first person the Wizard meets in Oz. I think that detracted a little from the movie for me. I hate spoilers (I didn't even look at the above poster until after I saw the movie).

In conclusion, it was a good movie. Not a great movie. But a good movie. Nice and solid in most ways, with other parts making up for what was lacking. Fun to watch, worth the trip for the 3-D, but it's not going to become a classic beloved of generations. Which, let's face it, was a legacy it stood little chance of living up to anyway.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Jan 30th
  • Green Lantern Corps Annual #1 - Yay, it's over! Wait, what? Another crossover. *sigh*
  • Arrow #3 - Three good little shorts in this one. I particularly like the vigilante-hunters in the second piece.
  • Batman Beyond Unlimited #12 - I like the Superman tale, not bad. The Micron origin was ok. Batman Beyond was surprisingly good for such a cliche superhero notion.
  • Superman Family Adventures #9 - Periwinkle Kryptonite? That's... fabulous!
  • Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #1 - I'm not fond of the artwork, but this is a good start with a lot of fun touches (including in the art) and both a solid main plot and a good start on the overall arc.
  • MacGyver: Fugitive Gauntlet #4 - This is a great little book, but don't miss the text article in the back that describes how the show came about. I've been enjoying it almost as much as the book itself.

Fortean Times #287
Fortean Times #287 (June 2012). I'm not a big fan of the Titanic and the colossal stupidity involved in its sinking. The cover story for this issue is about premonitions of the sinking, particularly the 1898 novel Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan by Morgan Robertson that seems to describe the sinking in its major points quite effectively, right down to not having enough lifeboats and hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic. However, a closer look at both fiction and reality at the time shows that these were fairly normal concerns during a race for bigger and faster ships. In any case, the article gathers a large number reported premonitions and reports them, along with some sidebars of other forteana related to the Titanic.

Strangedays had its moments in this issue. Mostly silly moments, but moments nonetheless. The life on Venus bit was just pathetically sad. I liked the ghost on the pier photo, although it doesn't look even slightly paranormal it's got a great story to go with it. And the wedding ring found on the carrot was a nice little tale as well, particularly with the picture.

There's a special report of a Malaysian panic over the greasy man, Orang Minyak. A neat touch was the report that some neighbors who hadn't gotten along or even known each other due to political tensions had joined forces against the supernatural being and were now friendly with each other. And all it took was a common enemy and a mass panic. Shades of Watchman.

The 2012 Watch covers Richard C Hoagland (of Face-on-Mars fame) and his goofy physics brewed up for the apocalypse. The theory involves "torsion fields" and the galactic equator, so not something to think about too hard.

Ghostwatch has two cases, one a famous ghost of a orange seller, actress and mistress to King Charles II and the other a case of a groping ghost attacking a woman. Konspiracy Korner is about the possibility that the US government may have the means of giving people cancer. Well, it's a tad more complicated than that, but that's the gist of the conspiracy theory.

Archaeology covers a strange appearance of a dinosaur bone where it shouldn't have been, an amazing discovery of Bronze Age artifacts in a fen and changes in the estimations of when early humans began cooking their food. Classical Corner is about strange tales of Constantinople. Alien Zoo is about giant spiders (one meter across), hybrid sharks and the pink-head duck of Asia.

Lots of little stuff in the UFO files and the casebook has an odd "sighting" of what people thought was a perfectly normal plane, just a bit out of place. Combined with some other odd occurrences, it was enough to catch the attention of the author and earn a write-up. The Illustrated Police News tells of the Ghost of Shropshire, thought to be Sarah Duckett.

The Fortean Bureau of Investigation checks out efforts to stamp out belief in the paranormal in India with laws against practicing black magic or performing miracles for financial gain. The laws are being pushed by a rationalist movement that dismisses the need for spirituality or religion.

The second part of an article about whether or not humans are wired to believe in God comes to a conclusion I wasn't exactly expecting from it. Strange, but interesting. Another article is about Dion Fortune and what made her into a witch that fought for Britain during WWII in supposed psychic battles against Nazi magicians. It's a good tale, but hard to credit as anything but a tale.

Random Dictionary is about UFO Crash Retrievals (part 2) and has some good thoughts on such tales and why they are so important to people who believe UFOs are alien spacecraft. Personally, I lean toward believing most of them are experimental craft that crashed, nothing more or less sinister. As for UFO, I tend to subscribe to the "earth lights" theories, although I don't know enough of the science to be certain.

The Forum has a fun little article about the dark side of cricket, and not in the Douglas Adams sense but a collection of real world incidents. Along the same theme, a second article discusses curiosities of cricketing. An illustrated book about charnel houses gets a rare 10 rating in the reviews, I still have no desire to read or even see it. Good letters, good reviews, a decent issue.