DVDs, Books, Games, and more

Monday, December 25, 2006

Eragon - Theater

 AndyO Review: * * 1/2

Metcritic Review: 38 (Generally negative reviews)

Like a lot of movies about dragons, when "Eragon" begins it seems to have a lot of potential. In the world of "Eragon," dragon riders were once the keepers of the peace. But now they're all gone, thanks to a rider who betrayed his colleagues. An evil King Galbatorix (John Malkovich) now rules over Alagaësia.

When we catch up with the hero of the story, who is conveniently named Eragon (Ed Speleers), he's a simple farmboy, who finds a dragon egg on his morning hunt. Of course he doesn't know it's a dragon egg until it hatches. In no time, the dragon Saphira (voice by Rachel Weisz) bonds with Eragon who becomes her rider, and it's up to both of them to fight the evil King.

There are some remarkable sequences in Eragon, although I was never blown out of my seat -- most of them involving the dragon Saphira. But for me, the derivative nature of the plot kept me from falling into the story. By derivative, I'm talking about "Star Wars: A New Hope." Here are just a few similarities:

  • Eragon doesn't know his parents. Luke Skywalker doesn't know his parents.
  • Eragon lives with his uncle and cousin. Luke Skywalker lives with his aunt and uncle.
  • Eragon's cousin and best friend Roran leaves the village so he doesn't get drafted by Galbatorix's army. Luke's best friend Biggs leaves Tatooine so he doesn't get drafted by the Empire. (Note that this scene was cut from the final Star Wars cut, but George Lucas did film the scenes with Luke and Biggs.)
  • Eragon meets Brom who was once a dragon rider, who becomes Eragon's mentor. Luke meets Obi-wan Kenobi, who trains him in to become a Jedi.
  • At one point, Eragon goes off to save the princess who was responsible for giving him the dragon. Luke and Obi-wan go off to save Princess Leia, who gave Luke the droids.
  • Eragon's uncle dies because of him. Luke's aunt and uncle die because of the droids. The dialogue in both movies is almost exactly the same.
  • In Eragon, the dragon riders are all dead except for the Jeremy Irons character who mentors Eragon. In Star Wars, the Jedi Knights have been wiped out except Kenobi, who mentors Luke.

So, I think you can see the similarities. And don't get me wrong: Star Wars isn't 100% original either. It borrows heavily from Kurosowa's "The Hidden Fortress" and 50 other movies; the difference is in the way Star Wars combines all of these influences to make something new.    

Note: That a 15-year-old boy named Christopher Paolini wrote Eragon is impressive. He obviously has a lot of talent to be writing a novel like this at such a young age. I'm reviewing Eragon the way I'd review any movie, regardless of how old or young the author was of the screenplay or the source material. In some ways it's too bad he published this story before he matured as a writer.

posted by AndyO @ 12:34 AM   0 comments

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Music for a Christmas Eve drive

While it wasn't Christmas Eve yesterday, I guess it could have been. Here are some CDs I was listening to on my Zune player as we drove across Washington state:

Brian Setzer and his orchestra always amaze me, and this CD is no exception. My favorite on this is their version of "The Nutcracker Suite." The big-band Nutcracker is very fun. 



What can you say? The King can sing Christmas songs like no other -- especially "Blue Christmas."



The more I listen to Harry Connick, Jr., the more I realize he has a lot of Elvis in his soul. I love Connick's arrangements of the traditional Christmas songs; they're always a bit different than what you'd expect.



This album has all the standards on it, like "Jingle Bell Rock." If you're looking for just one Christmas CD, this is probably your best bet.

posted by AndyO @ 5:06 PM   0 comments

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

10,000 Maniacs - MTV Unplugged - CD

MTV Unplugged

posted by AndyO @ 3:09 PM   0 comments

Paul McCartney - Paul Is Live - CD

Paul Is Live

posted by AndyO @ 3:08 PM   0 comments

Madonna - Confessions on a Dance Floor

Confessions on a Dance Floor

posted by AndyO @ 3:06 PM   0 comments

Rush - Hemispheres - CD


posted by AndyO @ 3:05 PM   0 comments

Rush - All The World's A Stage - CD

All The World's A Stage

posted by AndyO @ 3:04 PM   0 comments

Chris Botti - December - CD


posted by AndyO @ 3:02 PM   0 comments

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Atomic Bomb Movie - DVD

Trinity and Beyond: The Atomic Bomb MovieReview: * * *

Recently declassified footage of the atomic and hydrogen bomb projects in the U.S. and Russia. Interesting historical document.

posted by AndyO @ 10:39 PM   0 comments

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The 4400 - Disc 1 - DVD

Review - * * *

What an interesting idea for a show: What if 4400 people who were abducted by aliens were suddenly returned? Some were abducted in the 1950s, others only a few years ago. No one has grown any older. What if some of the people now have strange powers? This is the setup for a show that has many of the same qualities as the X-files. Each episode tells the story of an abductee trying to integrate into present day society.

Can't wait to watch more of this show.

posted by AndyO @ 10:29 PM   0 comments

United Flight 93 - DVD

Review: * * * *

I've been putting off watching this movie for a long time. In short, I didn't want to return to those feelings of 9/11. But when I finally got around to watching this film, I was surprised. First, this is an extremely well-crafted film. Second, the story of Flight 93 is one worth telling -- if even to honor those poor souls who gave their lives on this plane.

This film did bring back those raw feelings of 9/11 -- especially the confusion of that morning. But to watch the events unfold at the FAA facilities and to see the confusion cloud over everything puts this event in a new perspective. Many of the same people who were there on 9/11 play themselves in this film, which also surprised me -- mainly because they seemed like accomplished actors.

This is a fine film that will probably gain a wider audience as the events of 9/11 fade into history. 

posted by AndyO @ 10:21 PM   0 comments

Happy Feet - Theater

Review: * * * *

It's not every day that a movie like "Happy Feet" comes along. In this case, the themes of the film are deep and important. The animation is magical -- the music and dancing a lot of fun. 

Sidenote: I just went to the birthday party of a six-year-old boy, where there was a "Happy Feet" theme. I think this tells you that this film has arrived at the same level as the best animated films like "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles," "Shrek," and "Cars."  

posted by AndyO @ 12:21 AM   0 comments

Flushed Away - Theater

Review: * * * 1/2

Humor and wit from the creators of "Wallace and Gromit." A fine movie for both kids and adults.

posted by AndyO @ 12:15 AM   0 comments

Flags of our Fathers - Theater

* * 1/2

I guess I was expecting a movie on the same level as "Saving Private Ryan," but Clint Eastwood's film about the battle of Iwo Jima and the iconic image that it produced is fractured. There is the story about the battle itself, which includes some amazing visual effects; and then there's the story of the men who helped to raise the flag. The constant shifting between these two stories kept me uninvolved -- as did the wooden acting. This could have been a great film.

posted by AndyO @ 12:13 AM   0 comments