Link du Jour: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

I had dinner with a buddy last night and the 100-page Rule came up in conversation. We talked about how there are too many great page-turners out there and not enough time to read them all, so we’ve got no business forcing ourselves to read books that aren’t grabbing us. I offered Preston and Child‘s The Relic up as a recent book that I couldn’t get through fast enough. It’s too bad the movie that was made from it was so average, but the book is exciting and chilling and just keeps pushing you forward until you’re done.

That, plus the fact that Preston and Child have inter-connected their stories by having characters and organizations crossover from book to book, makes me very interested in reading more by them.

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To Read: For Edgar

You all know how much I love the historical and/or literary mysteries. For Edgar is in the latter category since it’s about a serial killer called “The Raven” who bases his or her crimes on gruesome deaths from Edgar Allan Poe stories.

That’s a great premise, but it doesn’t tell me anything about the execution. Fortunately, Bookgasm’s Rod Lott takes care of that when he calls it “a worthy successor to Silence of the Lambs.”

Turbines to speed.

Wow. I sucked at posting over Christmas. Sorry about that.

This isn’t even a real post here, but just a quick, engine-revving note to let you know that I’m back, and to remind me that now I also have to write reviews of The Dust Factory, the Spy Kids movies, and The Polar Express.

I’ll save my whining over the loss of Rose Tyler for another occasion once I’m back up to speed.

Happy Spielberg Day!

Today is Steven Spielberg’s 60th birthday. I’m not a hardcore fan of his, but when I think of movies like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Schindler’s List, I wonder why not. The answer is in movies like E.T., Empire of the Sun, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and A.I., but there’s still no denying the man’s talent and I’m glad that for all of that, he’s still a horror/sci-fi guy at heart.

In other news, I’m on vacation this week and am likely to blow off posting some. I’ll try to keep up with movie reviews (next up: Timeline and Interstate 60) because if I get behind in those, I’ll never catch up. But I’m definitely letting Link du Jour go until after Christmas.

I’ll also try to find time to tell you why I gave up on Armageddon’s Children after only 50 pages and how that’s probably the last nail in the coffin as far as me reading any more Terry Brooks goes.

Review: A Sound of Thunder

You might expect that a movie based on a Ray Bradbury short story might not live up to its source material. But if it’s got a gun-toting, chiseled hero leading an expedition across a futuristic, jungle-covered city that’s inhabited by sea serpents, giant bats, and baboonosaurs… well, that’s got to be awesome, right?

Not so much.

I’ve never read Bradbury’s original version of “A Sound of Thunder,” but I’ve read comics adaptations of it, so I’m familiar with what happens. Even though Bradbury’s story says that changing history by altering the past can’t be undone, I figured that the movie would mostly be about just that. And that’s okay. Really, Bradbury’s story makes its point and then just ends at a rather unsatisfying place, so I’ve got no problem with the idea of continuing from there and having the heroes try to fix things. Especially if doing so involves futuristic, jungle-covered cities and baboonosaurs.

Unfortunately, the special effects in the film version of A Sound of Thunder are beneath bad and into “laughable” territory. The dinosaur in the prehistoric sequences looks like it was created for a video game, and the blue screen work — which puts the characters into the setting of futuristic Chicago — is ridiculous. Thanks to flat imagery and goofy lighting, you never for a second believe that the characters actually inhabit the backgrounds in the exterior shots of the city. There are even a couple of shots of characters walking through the city where the actors are very clearly walking in place as the scenery moves past behind them. The baboonosaurs and other monsters are all well-designed, but no more realistic than the prehistoric dinosaur.

The acting by the main cast is absolutely fine (I mean, it’s got Ben Kingsley in it, for goodness sake, and Jemima Rooper from Hex), but I actually gasped at how poorly some of the bit part actors delivered their lines.

It’s a shame, because this could’ve been a fun, simple, adventure movie, even if it wasn’t an intelligent adaptation of Bradbury’s story. Glaring parts of it are so amateurish though, that I was never able to just sit back and enjoy the cheese.

To Read: The Further Adventures of Beowulf

Bookgasm comes through again with another reading recommendation. This one’s about a character that I always felt, as did Rod, would be really cool to read about if only I could decipher the story in all the archaic language .

The Further Adventures of Beowulf helps do that in three ways. First, it presents the original story with a reprint of a translation that Bookgasm calls “accessible and even exciting.”

Next, it offers new stories about the character, ranging from adventurous and comical to bloody and sexy. I don’t recognize all the authors, but I do have fond memories of reading Lynn Abbey’s Thieves’ World stuff as a kid.

Finally, The Further Adventures of Beowulf lays out a “a partial but annotated bibliography of Beowulf translations, spin-off novels, movie and TV adaptations and even comic books” for those interested in yet further Beowulf adventures. Bookgasm mentions the Christopher Lambert movie and a DC Comics series. I wonder if the Gerard Butler movie and the done-too-soon Speakeasy series are also on the list.