Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sherlock Holmes

Here we are, people. We have waited patiently and with much anxiety for months for the release of Sherlock Holmes, and it is finally here!!! I had 2 hours of classes before I could zip by Walmart and pick up my own copy. Pure torture. My stomach was twisted up in knots in anticipation! After what seemed like ages, my last class of the day let out and I drove over to Walmart. No, I did not speed, though I was sorely tempted to talk my mom into it.

There, sitting on the shelf, was the movie. Very few copies were left, in fact. I didn't even glance at the other movies (though my mom forced me to go through the others before we left, grr). I swept up the DVD case and would not let it go until I could shelve it among my other movies. It looks quite lovely on the shelf. A perfect addition to my rather extensive movie library.

I was going to be a good and patient person, and wait until Friday night to watch the movie. But my friend Megan was down and she had not seen it as often as I. So we watched it. However, it was very loud with all of the dogs, and my dad hasn't yet gained from the pleasure of viewing said movie, so we'll probably watch it on Friday again anyway. In any case, I will need something to watch at the beginning of the weekend to wind me down. The first week of school always drives me to very nearly have a panic attack.

And I was wrong - there are not 3 direct quotes from the books. There are, in fact, 4. I will have to post them sometime.

My opinion of Sherlock Holmes has not diminished since my 6th viewing of it. Now that I have re-read the books for a 3rd time, I am even more adamant in my statement that this is the closest film version to the stories. Closer than Jeremy Brett and definitely closer than Basil Rathbone. I hope their sequel will be just as good as the first installment (and hopefully if they do end up casting Bad Pitt *shudder* as Moriarty, it will turn out to be a good choice). The makers walked a fine line with casting Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler, but they managed to pull it off, as with many other elements. Now they should just rework their trailers . . . They probably could have found someone else to play Holmes just as effectively as Robert Downey Jr. did, but Downey displayed Holmes's energy level perfect, as well as his petulance, and he looked utterly pathetic and pouty when his feelings were hurt. Downey did well. And, of course, they could not have found a better person to play Watson or Mary. The level of action is not too absurd for a Holmes story, the dialogue is hilarious, and it is very much in keeping with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original stories.

The only "major" change they made was that Watson did not meet Mary Morstan through one of Holmes's cases, when, in fact, he did - The Sign of the Four. But in my Sherlockian opinion, it was an acceptable change for the movie. They did it well and it added to the hilarity.

The one scene my Sherlockian senses object to is the whole scene with Irene Adler at the Grand Hotel. While I laughed at Holmes being handcuffed to the bed with naught but a pillow to preserve his dignity, the likelihood of something like this appearing in one of the stories is unlikely. It was obvious that they put it in for cheap laughs, and it drew away a little from the Holmesian atmosphere the movie had. But not enough to ruin it.

And on another note - some people seem to think (Downey included) that Watson and Holmes's friendship is rather . . . gay. I have already debunked this stupid and absurd myth, but it's brought up something I've been meaning to post. In describing this, people tend to use the horrendous word "bromance." This word - unless used in jest, as in poking fun at the absurdity of the theory - is banned from my blog. I dislike censoring comments so, but I simply cannot stand that word.

Well, I must turn my attention to my Humanities paper now. Happy day, fellow Sherlockians! Enjoy your movie! I, in fact, declare this day Sherlock Holmes Day!! ;)

Friday, March 19, 2010

Brisingr Review (Christopher Paolini)

Seventeen-year-old farm boy, now Dragon Rider, Eragon and his blue dragon Saphira are back for a third installment of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle - a fantasy series considered epic by many readers. The continued stupidity of Eragon is about the only thing epic in this series.

Normally a fast reader, it took me a week and a half to get through the 745-page Brisingr. And even now I puzzle over what made it so bloody long! The chapters mainly focus on the political struggled of the Varden and especially the dwarves - as if there wasn't enough of that in Eldest. And while the politics surrounding a war are definitely important, none of it contributes to Brisingr's supposed plot.

Wait, there was a plot?! If there was, I certainly missed it among the laughing soldiers who can't be killed - unless you stab them through the left nostril, their foot, or the armpit -, Eragon's conversing with the surrounding foliage and wildlife (yes, the ants are back), and Roran's constant doubting of his leadership qualities, as well as his dislike for killing. (Ironically, in one battle, he ends up slaying nearly 200 people, and is seemingly unaffected by it afterward, whereas he has reoccurring nightmares after other battles that Mr. P finds necessary to relate in detail.)

And if you hoped that there would be character development, you will be sorely mistaken. Eragon has elf abilities now, but he still passes out about every other chapter, and exhausts his stamina gauge. Never mind he can punch straight through someone's stomach and not feel light-headed at all after getting a compound fracture. He is still as whiny as ever, and his intelligence level hasn't upgraded in the slightest.

There are a few moments with Arya where the reader sees a softer side of her, but they are few and far in between, and really do not contribute to her character at all. It just leaves the reader thinking "O-kay, so one moment she was sharing sentiments with Eragon around a campfire, and now she's slashing and hacking and acting as uppity as ever!"

I found Roran to be very tiring - particularly when he slew nearly 200 men on his own while gushing blood from his femoral artery. And then he doesn't die. After that moment, he simply becomes a killing machine with a big warhammer in tow. For a while, Mr. P shows signs that Roran may be able to use magic - which is demonstrated in a few nonsensical scenes where he tries (unsuccessfully) to levitate a pebble -, but that is left open for speculation. This may be because Mr. P has plans for it in the fourth book, but doubtful.

About the only character(s) who develop are the Urgals! Urgals, people! That is sad! And even they are not as developed as one would hope. They are still very much portrayed as hulking brutes with ram's horns and yellow eyes that go about grunting and roaring. This portrayal makes the character developments hard to take seriously (though none of this beats the part in Eldest where Eragon experiences the Urgal's childhood).

A good portion of this book focuses on the dwarves (yawn!), and the majority of that is spent with the clan chiefs bickering back and forth about this and that, and one clan giving Eragon the evil eye because he's a Rider. The only redeeming quality during those many chapters are the Star Sapphire is repaired, and Eragon is attacked by ninja dwarves! But unfortunately not killed.

The battles should have offered some variation, but they didn't. One is so abrupt that I literally jumped in my chair. One moment the Varden are being merry and preparing for a wedding, and then BOOM! There's an army of non-pain-feeling laughing soldiers on the horizon! And - surprise, surprise -, the "evil" Murtagh shows up, and he and Eragon have their usual conversation that suspiciously resembles ones Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker have. The most disturbing thing I found about that particular battle was afterward, everyone acted like nothing had happened, and they went back to being happy and merry.

The other two battles consist of Muscleman Roran and his skull-smashing hammer doing hundreds of baddies in. And the Varden siege resembles a role-playing game so much that you automatically wonder, "Did I save the game?" when a character enters a building.

What few plot twists the book has are so obvious that you could predict them with only reading the first book. I won't waste time expressing the similarities between it and Star Wars (and goodness, are there a lot!), and in order to cover all of the absurdities in this dreadful volume, I would have to write an essay. But I won't. I'll just end it with these words: I have never in my life had to force myself to read a book - not even for school. I dreaded every time I picked this book up.
Overall Rating: 

(special awfulness award)

Others in the Inheritance Cycle: