I Chronicles 29:11 "Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty:for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all."

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Review or Two for You

We take in a lot of media in this house, whether it be books, movies, or internet consumption. (That includes blog reading, online games, and news feeds.) Once in a while I feel that some things we've ingested are worthy of a review: to either warn you away, or tell you to run and get the next copy you can find! Today I'll be reviewing two movies and a book series.

1. The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) [Starring Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Connelly, Kathy Bates]
**Warning: Spoiler**
I don't even know where to start with this one. I would have to say it's in a class of it's own, but I've seen too many bad movies to leave this one hanging out there all by itself. It's definitely the worst movie I've seen in the past five years. And that's saying a lot, since I watched Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.

The basic plot line of the movie is this: An alien and his giant robot friend come to Earth to destroy the people, but save the planet. Of course there's a "sphere from outer space that lands in Central Park" element, and huge government involvement. The main characters were also a weird choice, in my opinion. (I don't know if it follows the original in that way, because I haven't seen it.)

The characters in this movie never mesh. The relationship between the woman and her step-son is so disheartening (and he gets away with WAY too much) that it detracts from the story (what there is of it).

Keanu Reeves, while having starred in some really *good* movies, [Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, anyone?] doesn't seem to really have any emotions to speak of. If the aliens are as passionate about saving planet Earth as they claim to be, you'd think he'd try and explain why they're so upset. Maybe Reeves really is an alien, and his foray into films is a study on human life.

Whatever. Back to this car wreck of a movie. I wonder if the actors had a hard time memorizing lines, because they say the same things over and over and over. It's annoying. And there isn't really a point to it all. I mean, the alien wants proof that humans can change (did you get that from Jennifer Connelly saying "We can change!" over and over?) but the only proof he ever gets is when the step son (who has caused ALL kinds of trouble) cries at his father's grave, and his step mom comforts him.

Um, what?

So, the world doesn't get blown up, BUT it doesn't really get taught a lesson either. No one goes on the news and reports that "We've gotta change people, or he'll come back and KILL US ALL!" Isn't the point of the movie to make people think? Even if it's a green-lover's dream with the message of how badly we have screwed up with our handling of God's creation, the point is never driven home.

Don't waste your money on this one.

2. The Tale of Despereaux (2008) [Voice cast: Matthew Broderick, Sigourney Weaver, Dustin Hoffman...]
I loved this movie! I thought the point of the story [all about forgiveness] was great, and there are so many lessons to pass onto our kids from it. [Like: Our choices never affect only us.] Lots of discussion to be had. I thought the voices were great, (who doesn't love to hear Dustin Hoffman talk?) and the animation was like a storybook. Very cute.

The rats are scary. no question about it. And there are parts that are WAY too scary for smaller children. I also agree with other reviewers, that the story seems a bit disjointed. There are a lot of plots happening, and something tells me things that are explained in the book are assumed in this movie: I haven't read the book, and a movie based on a book should never be made with the assumption that everyone in the universe has read the book. In fact, I'd never even heard of this book until the movie came out, and then only because we saw it at the DVD place.

Even though there are some weird, unexplained things, I think the main goal of the movie is to show what our depth of forgiveness should be. And they hit the nail on the head with that point. Maybe it's not a movie for families who don't have discussions about issues, or for people who want more magic, body function humor, and slightly inappropriate innuendos, but for me it was great.

Despereaux is very cute, and humble, and puts his status as a gentleman who stands for truth above all else; even his personal safety. I love a movie with a moral point!

So, despite the fact that most people seemed to [hate/be severely disappointed in] this movie, I found it sweet with a message you just can't pass up. And if it's ever for sale on DVD here in SA, I'll pick up a copy. My kids loved it too.

Maybe the trick is not to ever read the book. (Although I am inclined to do just that!)

3. Dragon Keeper Series by Danita K. Paul
Doneels, Emerlindians, and O'rants- oh my! This book series has fast become one of my all-time favorites. While I was a bit skeptical about the whole "dragon" focus, it quickly became clear that Paul is a devoted Christian, who shares her faith in her writing. (And the huge discount sale prince didn't hurt either.) The whole book series is just fantastic. The characters are well developed and realistic, with flaws and everything.

Though this is a fantasy series, and there is an element of magic used, Paul explains that the wizards cannot create anything except from things that Wulder (the character who represents God) has already created. They can manipulate those things, but only according to His rules. Genius. If they stray from that, they are crossing a line into the "evil wizard" realm, and no longer serving Wulder. There is also mind-speaking, but rules for , and the good characters protecting their minds against evil by calling upon Wulder for protection.

I love the fantasy world of Amara. The names of the new creatures you're introduced to soon become realistic, and you find yourself wondering who wouldn't know what a Doneel was, should you happen to mention it in conversation.

There are, of course, bad guys. Pretender (the character who represents Satan) is an evil wizard who wants to rule the world, and has enlisted the help of Crim Cropper to try and create advanced races who will do just that. But he fails miserably and releases these creatures into the world. They wreak loads of havoc for the main characters, and the people of Amara.

The pacing in the books is fantastic. At no point did I feel like the story (in any of them) was dragging, or moved too quickly. There seems to be no end to the adventures and difficulties faced, and the ways in which Paladin and Wulder step in to save the day. But at no point do the books sound 'preachy', or like a sermon wrapped in fiction.

I can definitely see this series becoming a movie series, and as popular as the Lord of the Rings. There are elements of adventure, mystery, action, and romance. Morals and the relationship of God and Christ (Wulder and Paladin in the books) are woven throughout. The whole series is really a great read.

Although I found the last book to be a little disappointing in the climax, and it seems as though editors messed with her writing style and suggested she get a little more "description-y", it is another great addition to the series.

I am looking forward to the new series, based in the same land, but with new characters. Yay for Danita K. Paul!

If you've watched/read any of the above, I'd love your opinion!


  • WendyMom

    Nope- can't say as I have- but am always looking for a new read- yo9u know that!

    Speaking of movies- did you ever get the Christmas package? I'll be so bummed if you didn't...

    Love you and hope all is well there- big party day today here, so I'll try and email you after...

  • Brenda

    We read Desperaux for Sweetheart's book club this year and then we all went to see the movie together. We loved the movie, but it was kind of disappointing b/c they changed so much from the book. Hmm. It's a good book. The movie was really cute. They just didn't have all that much to do with each other. You know? The kids in the book club were kind of confused like "What about when....or why didn't they show?" Not minor stuff either. Major stuff.

  • Spesamor Academy

    I heard so much raving about how good Desperaux was, that I read it. I prefer to preview what my kids watch and read. :) And I was horrified that people would let small kids read this book. For an older child, 10 or so, I could handle "reading with discussion", but my 6, 5, 3, and 2 year olds just aren't ready to hear about parents selling their kids to people who abuse them. Nor about the random, senseless death of parents, family members who send their "march to a different drum" children off to their deaths because they are different, and many other dark issues that this book presented. It will be many years before my kids ever see these books or this movie.
    JMHO! :)

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