We’ve entered the age of the movie saga. Movies no longer come with one or two sequels, instead it’s an entire series. It’s a big shift from when I grew up and makes things interesting for my kids.
My kids don’t watch a ton of TV (we make them earn TV time with optional chores, which means they usually opt to play outside instead), but over spring break we relaxed a little. Knowing the next Avengers movie is coming out soon, I got a pile of DVDs from the library.
Both kids have seen and like the Avengers, but they haven’t watched all the other movies. I hadn’t even seen them all. So over break we watched Captain America 1, Thor 1 & 2 as well as X-Men 1.
To truly catch the kids up on the Marvel series they’d also have to see Iron Man 1, 2 & 3 (not sure about that… I remember Iron Man 1 being awfully violent for a 6-year-old) and Hulk. Plus the Agents of Shield TV show. Thankfully none of it is required watching—Marvel does a nice job of stringing things loosely together (you could enjoy Avengers without having seen any of the other movies… I had only seen Iron Man 1 & 2 and Thor 1).
When you try to put the entire saga together to date, there are 10 movies: Hulk, Iron Man 1, Iron Man 2, Captain America 1, Thor 1, Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy (so the last one is very loosely connected… but the post-credits scene at the end of Thor 2 shows they are connected, and will be more connected in the future). There are even marathon screenings of all the movies leading up to Avengers 2. At 27 hours, we’ve moved beyond the movie marathon. And it’s only going to grow. Marvel has a roll-out plan into 2019 that will nearly double the number of movies. Continue reading The Age of the Movie Saga →
Five years after the release of the final Harry Potter novel (has it been that long?!), J.K. Rowling is releasing her next book, The Casual Vacancy, today. It’s not a kid’s book, as every review seems to point out with quotes about balls and vaginas (gasp!).
The New Yorker has a lengthy piece about Rowling that’s part bio and part review. It’s fascinating, especially reading about her incredible rise from welfare-recipient to near-billionaire author (almost there: the piece says she’s worth $900 million).
Of course The Casual Vacancy will be a best seller (it’s already #1 on Amazon). But the real question is if it will be any good.
I kind of hope it’s horrible. There’s something encouraging about someone so successful sitting down to dream it all up again and failing miserably. I’m probably not the only one with a bad case of schadenfreude. Though for what it’s worth I’d love to see her come back from a failed comeback (!) with a real winner and put us all to shame.
Of course it’d be that much better if The Casual Vacancy was amazing. Dreaming it all up again worked wonders for U2, delivering us the masterpiece of Achtung Baby. I don’t have those kind of expectations though. I have a hard time imagining Rowling’s voice in anything but a magical children’s novel. But I’ve love to be proved wrong.
OK, need to get this off my chest. Here comes the fan-boy movie rant, complete with spoilers and incoherence. You might want to just move along.
We went to see the new Harry Potter flick last night, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. As the sixth and penultimate book, this one had a tricky position: Needing to tell its own story but also set things up for the finale. I thought the book did that pretty well, though it was packed with flashbacks and lacking in action. At least until the last quarter of the book when things pick up like gangbusters. Like all the Potter books, turning that into a movie is no easy task.
Continue reading Harry Potter & The Half-Hearted Movie →
Early this morning I finished reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and so finished reading the entire seven-book Harry Potter series. I’ve read them all before, of course, but I wanted to do it one shot. It took about a month.
A few observations from reading the whole series at once:
It’s amazing how J.K. Rowling loves the exposition. Without fail every book in the series has a climactic moment that comes to a grinding halt while we bring on the exposition:
- Sorcerer’s Stone – Quirrell explains everything to a stalling Harry Potter.
- Chamber of Secrets – Tom Riddle stops to fill Harry in on everything instead of just calling the basilisk and getting it over with.
- Prisoner of Azkaban – Sirius and Lupin have to recount the whole story of animangi and werewolves.
- Goblet of Fire – Pick your expository moment! Voldemort tells Harry exactly how he came back, Fake Moody reveals exactly how he got away with it, or Dumbledore gets the full story from Harry (Harry sitting in Dumbledore’s office as exposition happens repeatedly).
- Order of the Phoenix – A lengthy bit of post-climax exposition where Dumbledore explains everything to a raging Harry.
- Half-Blood Prince – Since Malfoy can’t kill Dumbledore himself, he might as well do some exposition. While the climax is fairly exposition free, most of the rest of the book feels like cleverly disguised exposition.
- Deathly Hallows – Another pick your expository moment! It could be Dumbledore’s brother before Harry, Ron and Hermione return to Hogwarts, or the entire chapter of Snape’s memories, or the psuedo-heaven sequence with Dumbledore (among others). This book could be divided neatly between daring action scenes, the three main characters arguing/plotting/camping, and exposition).
I’m not saying all this exposition is bad. These stories clearly need to fill in the details so you can know what’s happening. And for the most part, Rowling does that fairly creatively (though by the end I think the pensieve was cheating). I just think it’s amazing that she continually saved all the exposition for the end. After a while it starts to feel like you’re being strung along because you know all the pieces won’t come together until the very end.
Don’t get me wrong—I like exposition. I think most of the novels I’ve written have been exposition. I just don’t like it when the action grinds to a halt so we can fill in the missing pieces. I think it’s lazy.
Continue reading Observations from Reading the Harry Potter Series →