Monthly Archives: November 2014

Book Review – The Sword and the Dragon

Awesome review. Thanks.

I Read Encyclopedias for Fun

theswordandthedragonThe Sword and the Dragon

Author: M. R. Mathias

Series: The Wardstone Trilogy #1

Genre: Fantasy

Published 2010

Review Copy: Free eBook

Overall Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

Goodreads Description

When the Royal Wizard of Westland poisons the king so that his puppet prince can take the throne and start a continental war, a young squire is forced to run for his life carrying the powerful sword that his dying monarch burdened him with from the death bed.

Two brothers find a magic ring and start on paths to becoming the most powerful sort of enemies, while an evil young sorceress unwillingly falls in love with one of them when he agrees to help her steal a dragon’s egg for her father. Her father just happens to be the Royal Wizard, and despite his daughter’s feelings, he would love nothing more than to sacrifice the boy!

All of these…

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We Review: The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 “Solid fantasy entertainment.” – MR

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Hunger Games:
Mockingjay – Part 1
MockingjayPart1Poster3.jpg

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Francis Lawrence
Produced by Nina Jacobson
Jon Kilik
Screenplay by Danny Strong
Peter Craig[1]
Based on Mockingjay
by Suzanne Collins
Starring
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Jo Willems
Edited by Alan Edward Bell
Mark Yoshikawa
Production
company
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release dates
  • November 19, 2014(BR, NO)
  • November 20, 2014(UK, HU, IT, ID, PH)
  • November 21, 2014 (US)
  • January 2015 (CN)

[2][3][4]

Running time 123 minutes[5]
Country United States
Language English
Budget
  • $140 million[6]
  • 250 million (shared with Part 2)[7]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 is a 2014 American science fiction adventure film directed by Francis Lawrence with a screenplay by Peter Craig and Danny Strong. It is the first of two cinematic parts based on the novelMockingjay, the final book in The Hunger Games trilogy, written by Suzanne Collins, and the third installment in The Hunger Games film series, produced by Nina Jacobson and Jon Kilik and distributed by Lionsgate. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Jeffrey Wright, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland. It is the sequel to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and will be followed by the concluding entry, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2.

The story continues to follow Katniss Everdeen; Having twice survived the Hunger Games, Katniss finds herself in District 13. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss reluctantly becomes the symbol of a mass rebellion against the Capitol and fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage. Principal photography for both parts of the film began on September 23, 2013 in Atlanta, before moving to Paris for two weeks of filming and officially concluding on June 20, 2014 in Berlin.[8]

Part 1 was released on November 19, 2014 in Brazil, on November 20, 2014 in the Malaysia, United Kingdom, Greece and Indonesia, and is scheduled to be released on November 21, 2014 in the United States and November 28, 2014 in India, with an unconfirmed date in January 2015 in China.[3][4] It landed atop Fandango‘s list of most-anticipated films for 2014.[9]

Synopsis

Katniss Everdeen finds herself in District 13 after she literally shatters the Games forever, but the Capital is using Peeta just like the resistance is using Katniss.

Cast

For character descriptions from the novels, see List of The Hunger Games characters.
A seventeen year old from District 12 and victor of the 74th Hunger Games, she becomes a reluctant hero and symbol of hope for the nation after escaping the third Quarter Quell in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. On her character, Lawrence said, “She’s in a different world. She wakes up in District 13 and she has to adjust to a completely new life.”[10][11] Director Francis Lawrence said that her character now compared to the previous film is just “ratcheted up” and that “she’s panicked, and she can’t sleep. She’s barely able to hold it together.” On her relationships with the other characters, he said that Katniss “feels betrayed by Haymitch and by Plutarch. She also feels lost without Peeta” and that because of that “she’s very, very fragile and very, very angry.” Screenwriter Peter Craig said that “everyone is waiting for her, hoping that she is alive. They’re banking on her to change the world. It’s both high anxiety-provoking and exhilarating to follow her as she tries to understand what is going on – and takes on this new identity outside of the arena.”[12] Producer Nina Jacobson says that “emotionally, Katniss is betrayed. She’s a foreigner in a strange land. She knows that people are looking to her to make a change, and this is the time where she realizes she can’t stand by and do nothing. Snow has done too much. There has been too much deception, and the people Katniss loves are in danger. She will do whatever it takes to keep them safe.”[13]
Joint victor of the 74th Hunger Games, he is captured at the end of Catching Fire and he loses his mind after being tortured.[14] Hutcherson says that he’s “always thought that the arc that Peeta takes is really incredible throughout the whole series” and that Peeta’s character arc, “from the beginning he’s such a vulnerable young lad, and into the literally tortured, inflicted kind of PTSD-suffering person that he becomes in Mockingjay is kind of incredible.”[15][16] Cast member Jeffrey Wright said he’s interested to see Peeta’s journey realised “because he essentially plays a guy, a warrior who’s trying to deal with PTSD and among other things.”
Katniss’s best friend from District 12 and now a soldier in District 13. He is one of the few hundred survivors after the bombings of his district. Hemsworth said on Gale’s role in comparison to the previous films, “I mean Gale has the majority of his stuff is (sic) in the third book and it’s when you get to see him standing up to it all. You see bits and pieces of it through the first two [books], of how passionate he is about it, and he gets to sink his teeth in in the third one. Gale is a big part of the uprising”[15]
A paunchy, middle-aged man and an alcoholic, he is one of the only three victors from District 12. Now under the command of District 13, he is forced to go underdetox as they do not permit the consumption of alcohol. He is no longer trusted by Katniss after he breaks his promise of saving Peeta before her.[11]
Previously the Capitol-born chaperone and publicity representative for District 12 tributes during the Hunger Games, she is now a Capitol-born rebel in District 13. While her character does not make an appearance in the novel until the end, director Lawrence reveals that he has expanded her role in the films, “She’s back! In the book, Fulvia basically replaces her. But how can anybody replace Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket in these movies? When [author] Suzanne Collins sawCatching Fire, she called and one of the first things she said was, ‘There’s no way Effie Trinket cannot be in the Mockingjay films.’ Effie brings such warmth and fun and levity to these dark stories. She’s the fish out of water in this one and fans will love how she has adapted to the world of District 13.” Producer Nina Jacobson adds that Effie’s reasoning for helping the rebellion is “for personal reasons, not political reasons” and that “unlike Plutarch, she has to be convinced to help. She does not want to be part of the revolution.”[12]
One of the leaders of the rebellion residing in District 13, he managed to pull the strings for the rebellion behind the scenes in the Capitol during the 75th Hunger Games by pretending to work for President Snow as the Head Gamemaker and helps Katniss and a few other tributes escape the arena. Hoffman said that, “his job becomes very different. The story becomes very different and everyone will see what happens.”[17] Director Francis Lawrence explains that “not everybody who grows up in the Capitol is a bad person. This is the movie where Phil [Seymour Hoffman] shows us who he really is, and he is great in this movie, hitting on Plutarch’s sense of humour and political manoeuvring.”[12]
The president of District 13 and the leader of the rebellion. Moore was a big fan of the book series and has “read all the books all the way through and I‘m like, ‘I want to be in this movie.’ Clearly [Coin] was the only part I could play.” Describing her character in the books, she says “Coin is very sparingly drawn because you don’t know who she is because she’s only spoken about through Katniss’ point of view. And Katniss immediately mistrusts her in the way sometimes a young person will mistrust an older person who is not familiar to them or is in a position of authority.”[19] Director Francis Lawrence said “Coin’s singular vision to unite all of the districts in a massive rebellion is no small undertaking, especially when most of the districts have no idea that District 13 still exists. Her relationship with Katniss is very complicated as well, because Katniss is wary of everyone at this point. Julianne [Moore] has done an amazing job with helping to shape the character of Coin.” Screenwriter Peter Craig says Moore’s portrayal of Coin is filled with such “intelligence and warmth; anyone would want to be loyal to the character she has created.[12]
The tyrannical President of Panem who has an affinity for white roses. Sutherland compares Snow’s dangerous battle with Katniss to a love affair, “because love affairs often start with people hating each other — the attraction is so deep and profound,” he says. “This is going to go on until it all ends. Snow only gets better.” Director Francis Lawrence says that “everything that happens in this story is driven by the antagonist, which is why President Snow is so vital, it gets very personal with these characters.”
Resident director from the Capitol, she flees alongside her camera crew and assistant, Messalla, to District 13 to join the rebellion in hopes of ending President Snow’s control of Panem. Dormer shaved half her head for the role, but originally intended to shave her entire head. She said she discussed it [with Francis Lawrence] and I took the job on the premise that I would possibly shave my whole head. I’m actually really pleased that we went halfway because I think it’s more the Capitol… and that’s where Cressida comes from. She comes from the Capitol, so she’s got a stylized thing going on and now she’s turned rebel. I think it’s right for the character.”[21] On the similarities between Cressida and the character she plays on Game of Thrones, Margaery Tyrell, she said that Cressida “is employed by the rebellion in this modern capacity that we would recognize as PR and propaganda, winning over hearts and minds in the civil war. And yeah, what Margaery does is modern PR-stunting. So yes, there would be a similarity between the two characters, that they are astute at media manipulation.”[22][23]
Trident wielding victor of the 65th Hunger Games, he escapes from the third Quarter Quell alongside Katniss and other tributes and seeks refuge in District 13. He is distressed, unhinged, and is unable to focus on anything other than his girlfriend Annie Cresta, who was captured by the Capitol during the escape. Claflin said that Finnick since the last film has “been left in a very, very sad and upsetting place. He’s lost his wife and he doesn’t know on where she is. It starts in a very distressing place for him, in the beginning of Mockingjay. He just goes on a hellish journey.”[24] Director Lawrence says on his casting that even though he “has the looks, the beauty, the athleticism, the charm,” that it wasn’t the deciding factor in Claflin’s portrayal that sold him. It was “his emotional depth. Because I always knew where Finnick was going to go as a character, and what we were going to learn about him as the stories progressed, that drew me to Sam.”[25][26]
President Snow’s minister.[28] His character does not appear in the books and is an addition to the adaptation. Knepper says during his audition he read for, but he knows that what he got is not what he’ll end up doing, adding that “they [Lionsgate] are so secretive about this.”[29]
District 7 victor who was captured by the Capitol at the end of Catching Fire along with Peeta. It’s been reported that Johanna’s role has been expanded from that of the novel.[30]

Additionally, Stanley Tucci,[31][32] Willow Shields,[33][34] Jeffrey Wright, Paula Malcomson all reprise their roles as Caesar Flickerman, Primrose Everdeen, Beetee Latier, and Mrs. Everdeen respectively. Stef Dawson plays Annie Cresta (after having a cameo appearance in Catching Fire),[35] Finnick’s girlfriend from District 4 who is captured by the Capitol.[36] Evan Ross plays Messalla,[37] assistant director to Cressida. Patina Miller portrays Commander Paylor,[38][39] the leader of the rebellion in District 8. Mahershala Ali was cast as Boggs, Coin’s right hand man, while Wes Chatham portrays Castor and Elden Henson plays his brother, Pollux, who is an Avox, someone who had his tongue cut off by the Capitol.

 

Our Thoughts:

Those who have read the books will find what you expect to find in this film. It is a bridge between two parts of the story, and the whole premise for Katniss having two men, or a “boy dilemma,” or “love triangle,” or whatever you call it. To put it simply, she has to have time alone with each of them, for this to develop, and this is her time away from Peeta. I’m giving the movie 5 stars. It is solid fantasy entertainment. I can’t wait for part 2.

 

Find a Mockingjay Part 1 at amazon and see several awesome trailers here.


We review Interstellar IMAX version “5 Stars – A true MUST SEE!” – MR

Interstellar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Interstellar
A ringed spacecraft revolves around a reflective sphere.

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Produced by
Written by
Starring
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Hoyte van Hoytema
Edited by Lee Smith
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release dates
  • October 26, 2014 (premiere)
  • November 5, 2014(North America)
  • November 7, 2014(United Kingdom)
Running time 169 minutes[1][2]
Country
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $165 million[3]
Box office $137,836,670[4]

Interstellar is a 2014 science fiction film directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, and Michael Caine, the film features a team of space travelers who travel through awormhole in search of a new habitable planet. It was written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan; Christopher combined his idea with a script developed by his brother in 2007 for Paramount Pictures and producer Lynda Obst. He produced the film with Obst and his wife, Emma Thomas. Theoretical physicist Kip Thorne, whose work inspired the film, acted as both scientific consultant and executive producer.

Warner Bros., which produced and distributed some of Nolan’s previous films, negotiated with Paramount for a financial stake in Interstellar. Legendary Pictures, which formerly partnered with Warner Bros., also sought a stake. The three companies co-financed the film, and the production companies Syncopy and Lynda Obst Productions were enlisted. The director also hired cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema since Nolan’s long-time collaborator Wally Pfister was busy working on Transcendence, his directorial debut. Interstellar was filmed with a combination of anamorphic 35 mm andIMAX 70 mm film photography. Filming took place in the last quarter of 2013 in locations in the province of Alberta,Canada, in southern Iceland, and in Los Angeles, California. The visual effects company Double Negative created visual effects for Interstellar.

Interstellar premiered on October 26, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Theatrically, it received a limited release in North America (United States and Canada) on November 5, 2014 and a wide release on November 7, 2014. It was also released in Belgium, France and Switzerland on November 5, 2014 and in additional territories in the following days, including the United Kingdom on November 7, 2014. For the limited release in North America, it was released in 70 mmand 35 mm film formats in 249 theaters which still project the formats, including at least 41 70 mm IMAX theaters. For the wide release, it expanded to theaters that show it in digital format. Paramount Pictures is distributing the film in North America, and Warner Bros. distributes it in the remaining territories.

Plot

In the near future, Earth is no longer able to sustain humanity. Crops are being gradually wiped out by a blight, dust storms scour the land, and humankind has regressed to a failing agrarian society. The blight thrives on nitrogen, reducing the oxygen in the atmosphere and placing future generations at risk of suffocation. Cooper, a former NASA test pilot and engineer-turned-farmer lives with his family: his father-in-law, Donald; his son, Tom; and his ten year-old daughter, Murphy—better known as “Murph”—who believes that their house is haunted by a poltergeist that is trying to communicate with her. Cooper one day locates a drone flying over his field aimlessly which he is able to bring down after some efforts and he realizes that it was riding over gravitational anomalies, which makes him recollect his earlier unsuccessful flight attempt while working in NASA after which he had given up flying. Cooper then challenges Murph to prove the ghost’s existence through scientific inquiry. He later discovers the “ghost” is an unknown form of intelligence sending them coded messages by means of gravitational waves, altering the dust on the floor in a binary pattern that directs them to the coordinates of a secret NASA installation led by Professor Brand, formerly one of Cooper’s professors.

At the NASA site, Brand reveals to Cooper that humanity’s fight to survive is a losing battle, but the discovery of a wormhole orbiting Saturn has given mankind a chance for survival. NASA scientists believe that extra-dimensional beings are communicating with them and have created the wormhole for humanity’s use. Cooper is recruited to pilot Endurance, an experimental spacecraft, to follow the Lazarus Mission, a series of manned capsules sent through the wormhole to survey a dozen potential planets’ long-term habitability. Once their viability is confirmed, humanity would follow aboard NASA facilities, which have been constructed on Earth to serve as gigantic space stations. The resulting data from the Lazarus Mission has given NASA three potentially habitable planets: Miller, Edmunds, and Mann, named after the astronauts who carried out the surveys.

Cooper’s decision to join the Endurance crew as the team’s pilot breaks Murph’s heart, and the two part on bad terms. Before leaving, Cooper leaves a watch with Murph matched with the time in his own watch and tells her that it is the hope that he will return upon which she has to trust. He joins Brand’s daughter, Amelia; physicist Romilly; geographer Doyle; and two multi-purpose artificially intelligent robots—designated CASE and TARS—on a two-year spaceflight to the wormhole before crossing over into the new galaxy. While traversing the wormhole, Amelia encounters an extra-dimensional presence that she believes has created the wormhole to save humanity.

Once through, Endurance follows the signal left by Miller’s expedition, but they quickly encounter a problem: the candidate planet is orbiting in close proximity to Gargantua, a supermassive rotating black hole. Due to its gravitational pull, time on the planet is much slower than on Earth. For every hour that passes in the vicinity of the planet, seven years pass in normal space. Cooper, Amelia and Doyle, take a lander to the planet’s surface, while Romilly remains on Endurance to make scientific observations of Gargantua. The expedition crew discover that the planet’s surface is inhospitable. It is completely covered with a two foot deep ocean, which is constantly roiled by giant tidal waves racing across its surface. Doyle is killed by a wave as the crew attempt to retrieve Miller’s data recording instrument, and their departure is delayed for more than an hour. Upon boarding the Endurance, Cooper and Amelia discover that twenty-three years have passed for Romilly.

 

Our Thoughts

While I loved the imagery, the plot, and the acting…  And almost everything else about this movie, its ending needed one last scene, just a second long. Without it, it felt incomplete. I understand why it ends how it does, but it left me unsatisfied and I don’t like that in a movie. In a book I’ve invested days of my time and if I have to wait until the next book to get to the end it is ok. I’m reading to escape the real world anyway. But there won’t be an Interstellar Two so we will NEVER know. All of that said, I highly recommend this to all human beings who do not understand that we will soon overpopulate this planet and destroy our own infrastructure as a civilized world if the problem isn’t addressed. I mean it won’t happen while I’m alive, but it will happen, and the technology of the movie is sadly light years beyond our reality. 5 Stars – A true MUST SEE – MR

 

Find Interstellar and see a free extended trailer HERE at Amazon.