Why Jon Cusack’s ‘Shanghai’ isn’t Casablanca

MJG Book / Movie Reviews, Featured Story Leave a Comment

The movie Shanghai wants to be a big hullaballooing tapestry of love, espionage and betrayal in WW2 China, woven through with parallels to Casablanca. What we get though is more gold-threaded doily then Bayeux, knitted with great pomposity from dramatic but impersonal threads, few of which we really come to care about at all. In short, it’s empty. Here’s why. Story Jon Cusack plays Paul Soames, an American spy sent to look into the suspicious death of his buddy spy in the Japanese sector of Shanghai, the last Chinese city not wholly under Japanese control in the middle of World …

Why Sucker Punch sucked

MJG Book / Movie Reviews 26 Comments

There are 2 main reasons why Sucker Punch sucked. These reasons have got nothing to do with all the half-naked girls, the cartoon violence, or the complexity of 3 nested worlds. No. Director Zach Snyder would be glad to have any of those problems. He’d love it if they were all we could fault the movie on, especially after the success of movies like Moulin Rouge, 300, and Inception. Nope, the problems are much deeper than that. They’re in the bones of the story, the structure. Sucker Punch is the story of Baby Doll, who within the first 3 minute …

The Farthest Shore

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The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. Le Guin was the book I was waiting for in the Earthsea series. After the failure of Tombs of Atuan to capitalize on the tantalizing promise of A Wizard of Earthsea, I was desperate to see this book step up to the plate. Ged had to get out there and fight something big, something so large sacrifices were required, something that was threatening the fabric of the world. And Le Guin delivered. Amen. The Farthest Shore tells the story of magic fading out of Earthsea. Reports come back to Ged, now Archmage on the …

The Tombs of Atuan

MJG Book / Movie Reviews 6 Comments

I went into this book not knowing what to expect after A Wizard of Earthsea, which was quite a mixed bag. So much of it was narrative summary, and things only kicked off properly at the very end, as Ged went after the Gebbeth demon. Where would the Tombs of Atuan pick up, after all that was done? Well, it picks up somewhere completely different- with a girl called Tenar, who is a kind of Vestal Virgin to the same dark powers that Ged faced down in the first book. She spends her days roaming Atuan’s undertombs, politicking for power …

A Wizard of Earthsea

MJG Book / Movie Reviews 6 Comments

I first picked up this book when I was a kid. I read probably only a few pages, then put it down again, thinking it was boring. I recently picked up the whole series of 4 books at the Blue Parrot (2nd hand book store) and decided to give them a second chance.

The Servants

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This is more like it. After traisping through the self-indulgent waffle-house that was The Lonely Dead, I felt ready to give up on Michael Marshall Smith, but The Servants proves he’s still got it.
That said, I`ve got some pretty hefty reservations to lodge.

The Lonely Dead by Michael Marshall Smith

MJG Book / Movie Reviews 5 Comments

I really wanted to like this book. Ever since Michael Marshall Smith wrote his sci-fi trilogy of One of Us, Spares, and Only Forwards, I thought he`d be one of my favorite authors. My first novel (as yet unpublished 🙁 ) was influenced by his breezy first person narrative style. His books were packed with cool ideas, tidbits of nifty philosophy, and it was easy to overlook the parts that didn`t make sense, felt like filler, or were just too damn smug. Well, it`s not so easy any more. The Lonely Dead is all of the bad in that list, …

Star Trek: The Next Generation #7 Masks

MJG Book / Movie Reviews, Star Trek 2 Comments

This is an odd one. Author John Vornholt drops two away teams comprising all the senior bridge crew onto a medieval world where everyone wears masks. They bumble around looking for each other and for the guy they were sent to find- Almighty Slayer, to initiate diplomatic relations. They get lost, they bump into all kinds of important people, and ultimately don`t do much of anything. But, it`s not bad. Instead it`s just quite odd.