Monday, October 7, 2013

Lightning Reviews

Got a backlog of media I've consumed lately, so let's knock them out quick.

Today we'll cover the movies Oz the Great and Powerful, Oblivion, & Jack Reacher as well as the books Turn Coat and Changes by Jim Butcher (part of the Dresden Files series). Here are the Amazon links:


Oz the Great and Powerful


I thought this movie looked cool when it came out and I was enthused about the actors and actresses in it (James Franco, Mila Kunis and Rachel Weisz are always welcome in any movie-going experience of mine, and now that I've seen it, it's worth mentioning that Michelle Williams did a swell job also), so I was excited to watch it.

This movie is done in 3D style. That's not a bad thing if you're watching it in 3D. In two-dimensions, the swerves, zooms and pans are a bit trite, and a worse offender is the fact that the film is drawn out to about twice the length it should be in order to fit in more 3D special effects.


After Oz makes it to Oz and up until the first real "twist" of the movie (which really shouldn't be a twist to anyone that has seen the Wizard of Oz or I suppose Wicked—note: I guess I'm assuming no one's read any of the dozens of Oz books), the movie seemed to be moving at a good enough pace, but beyond this it just took entirely too long to do anything. Without having Oz popping out at me, I was not as interested in all of the aforementioned sweeping shots.

Some of the background shots were exceedingly sloppy (some brightly colored horses come to mind) and overall I was left feeling unsatisfied. Apparently, they're making a sequel. I'm not sure it needs one, and since it's not going to Dorothy territory, most things would be left unconcluded, soooo yeah.

Zero Review: 7.0/10, C-

Oblivion


Oblivion had a very hardcore sci-fi feel to it. Throughout the film I felt like I was watching a classic sci-fi tale but done with all the technological wonders of the modern age of filming. This was not necessarily a good thing. Those classic sci-fi tales have a tendency of saying "F U" to their readers with some nihilistic BS point about dystopian once-utopias that the characters have to annoyingly suffer through. Luckily, Oblivion remains good in spite of this feel permeating the movie.

I was expecting some of the "twists", but others caught me pleasantly by surprise, and the entire thing left me with good feelings, although nothing approaching the level of emotion attained by truly great tales. It was just a pleasant little movie with an absurdly high special effects budget.

Zero Review: 8.5/10, B
Zero Approved


Jack Reacher


Like Oblivion, Jack Reacher is good without wowing you, and the character of Jack Reacher is bad-ass enough without being implausible. Surprisingly, they portray him as a penultimate good guy, so when he shows that he doesn't necessarily care about the law, it comes off being satisfyingly visceral. Nothing to wow you, but nothing terrible either.

Zero Review: 7.5/10, C


Finally, we have the two Dresden Files tales from Jim Butcher:

Turn Coat and Changes


I fondly remember the 2007 Sci-Fi channel original series (back when it was Sci-Fi instead of SyFy) and I had been meaning to check out the series since then. It's a very cool character that is geeky, powerful and cool.

Exploring the mystery/detective genre from a fantastical bent, they do so quite enjoyably. I definitely approve and recommend the Dresden Files from the two books I've read (books 11 and 12 respectively), and I am looking forward to checking out the rest too (although my library only has 11-14, having skipped 1-10 for whatever reasons). Changes had much more action in it, and although at the end they did a little bit of a reset to the events of the book, I find it plausible that each additional book will show a Dresden that is more and more powerful (with the possible exception of Book 13).

Zero Review: 8.5/10, B
Zero Recommended