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May 6, 2018

Movie: Black Panther (2018)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 3:05 pm

imageThe buzz on this movie is incredible. They say that this smashes the stereotypical beliefs or myths of the Hollywood movie making – which is that a movie mainly centred on black people cannot succeed in the worldwide box office. This did and also has an African American director to boot.

 

It is interesting to note that another myth – that if the woman is the central character of a movie, it will not succeed – was also supposed to have been recently blown apart by the super success of Wonder Woman.

 

I have these ‘supposed to’ etc only because I was not aware of these myths before they came into prominence after the two movies were released.

 

But what is not a myth is that Disney rules the box office world today. All top grossers, including the above two, were made by Disney. And add to it the fact that Disney owns Pixar, Lucas Studios in addition to Marvel and also makes its own movies like Frozen, and they are the King of Hollywood today.

 

This movie is good. Very good. And like a friend of mine said (which I agree with) ‘For the first time we actually identify with the reason the super villain turned bitter and wants revenge’. Really. Usually the villains are simply for World Domination of World Destruction  (beautifully parodied as Dr Evil and Mini Me in Austin Powers series) but here is a young man who was left with broken dreams. (OK, the Incredibles also had a villain with a genuine grouse but most do not).

 

The story is one of a supermetal called Vibranium, which fell in Africa and kept in Wakanda by the warrior who becomes the original “Black Panther”.

 

King T’chaka is now the descendent ruling Wakanda and he learns of Prince N’Jobu, living in the US (where else?) and thinks that Vibranium should be shared with all citizens of African descent to ‘overcome their suppression’. He plans to even steal one with the help of a half crazed smuggler Ulyssis Klaue (brilliantly played by Andy Serkis) he confronts the prince and when that turns violent and threatens to cost the life of his loyal aide Zuri (Forrest Whittaker) he reluctantly kills him. Shamed about the violence, he decides to abandon N’Jobu’s son Erik to his fate so that the rest of Wakanda will not hear what he had to do.

 

When T’chaka dies, his son T’Challa becomes the Black Panther and King, and is the central protagonist in the movie.

 

Killmonger, a person who tries to steal Vibranium defeats the king and nearly kills him. Restored, he comes back with the help of other tribes to battle and win back the throne as the official Black Panther.

 

Originally I thought Ulyssis is the classic supervillain and was surprised when he was killed off early in the movie. We then realize that Killmonger is the super villain and we understand the twist that makes him oppose the Black Panther (and nearly triumph) we understand.

 

There are a lot of delightful twists on the way including amazing car chases and heroics on American roads, and also a lot of duels (Before Killmonger, there is a rival M’Baku, whom he bests in an armed combat.

 

Keeps you on the edge of the seat. Nicely made.

 

8/10

–  – Krishna

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March 31, 2018

Book: Song of Susannah by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 10:18 pm

imageThis book is the Sixth (and penultimate) book in the series of Seven books (Eight, if you include a later introduction into the middle of the series. We have seen the previous ones here, which are : The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, The Wizard and Glass, The Wind Through the Keyhole and Wolves of The Calla. Only the final volume is left after this.

 

I must say that the stories are getting better and better as you go along. In complete contrast to the first book, The Gunslinger, which was abominable, this one is very, very good.   Let us jump into the story, assuming you have read the earlier books at least enough to know the characters by now.

 

Realizing Susannah has disappeared with the Black Ball, Eddy is desperate to go after her, but the townsfolk caution him to wait until the morning.

 

They feel a Beam break and are anxious to save the Dark Tower before vital Beams break and make it collapse.

The next morning they go after Susannah/ Mia and find her wheelchair abandoned.

 

Meanwhile Trudy gets to see Susannah/ Mia materialize out of thin air and gets her shoes stolen as well. She is never the same. She hears the “Black Tower” a building of black glass being constructed in the vacant lot sing.

 

Meanwhile Susannah reaches out to Eddie in her mind and he gives her a sign from the past, asking her to look for hidden pockets in the bag containing the evil ball. She gets a small turtle which seems to have magical powers and mesmerises a Swedish businessman who offers cash and a hotel room and the receptionist is mesmerised not to ask for identification.

 

When they have a talk on a mental desolate range, Susannah understands that Mia is the aspect of the demon whom Roland and she faced and also that to save the child, they have let Eddie and Roland walk into the trap set by Jack Andolini and his men.

 

Roland and Eddie escape, though Eddie was shot on the leg, on a boat helped by an old man they accidentally met. Roland roasts the pursuers with diesel and a fire bomb and they escape by boat to the man’s cottage by the pier. They go meet Alan Dipeneau and Calvin Tower who has been stupid in advertising their whereabouts while hiding.  Finally they persuade him to sell the plot to the ka-tet.

 

Susannah delays Mia till night when she knows that Jake and Callahan will arrive to save her. The episodes of the fight at the gas station, the rage of Eddie about Calvin’s stupidity, Calvin’s obstreperous denial of the danger, and Mia’s confusion about modern gadgets in the hotel are all told extremely well and are classic King. What jars is his inserting himself into the story (Remember Wilbur Smith doing it much more disastrously in The Seventh Scroll?). It is annoying when authors want to be part of the story (even as themselves). Having started the plan, King plays with the idea, even making Eddie wonder if he, Eddie, is a part of some story.

 

They go after King. (I feel stupid at this point for reading on). King does a comic portrayal unlike Wilbur glorifying himself as a ‘historian’ in the other book, but still it is kind of stupid, discussing characters created by the author with the author himself.

 

Callahan, Jake and Oy land in New York. They follow the trail and are ready to die until they find the scrimshaw turtle left there by Susannah. Then they go into the den of the Crimson King’s “low men”, a bar called the Dixie Pig. The low men are those who figure in the short story so well (Hearts in Atlantis). Incidentally, the low men are those that have red dots on their forehead. (Thank God that they are not women with red dots! But wait, yes, there are also women with red dots).  The dots slosh blood within but they do not spill.

 

The scene where Mia realizes how much she relied on false promises is well told, as is the reception that Susannah Mia get among the low men, vampires and some insectile beings. The characters are pure fantasy, Stephen King style.

 

The ending is a cliff-hanger and serve as a gateway to the next book. Which, I believe, is the last in the series.

 

7/10

– – Krishna

Movie: Star Wars the Last Jedi (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:54 pm

imageThis caused waves again when it came out and they were talking about it seemingly for a very long time.

 

I have mixed views about this film. They have been faithful to the elements of Star Wars where the story seems to have background characters that are a veritable multi-planet zoo of animals and humanoid forms that are beyond our normal imaginings and here too they are there. Who can forget the ‘cows’ out of which old Luke Skywalker obtains his milk?  But then there are portions of the movie which has more of the feel of the other cult classic, Star Trek. So the lines being a bit blurred caused, in my mind at least, some confusion.

 

There is less of the original silliness where in the middle of a huge showdown between the forces of good and evil, a small child, or an inexperienced man, or something else like that just goes in seemingly impervious to all the assaults and manages to destroy the critical infrastructure of the bad guys. But it is still there. In case you forgot it is Star Wars, I guess.

 

For all that, you are enthralled in parts and realize why this series is such a cult classic. The scene where Luke comes alone to defend a fortress in siege when everything seems nearly lost is amazing, and the ending (how was he able to escape their reaches) is breathtaking. And there is, of course a twist near the end, which I will not reveal, keeping in line with my policy of not providing any spoilers if I can help it but diehard fans would find it significant.

 

Supreme Leader Snoke is an interesting character and how he meets his end is also very nicely told.

 

The story is one of the general Star Wars where the Jedi are in constant siege from the Empire’s forces (this time under the leadership of Snoke). The next generation Darth Vader is of course Kylo Ren, who is the son of Hans Solo and killed his father (that seems to be a tradition in the Star Wars world) in the first movie after Disney takeover. The twist is the Snoke distrusts Kylo, suspecting his loyalty.

 

Rey comes in search of Luke and pleads with him when she finds him in retirement in an isolated island. He is totally reluctant to do anything more and wants to be left in peace.

 

The scene where Finn, trying to steal a pod to go rescue Jedis is found out by Rose Tico who helps him find a code breaker to help. And there are interesting twists with the code breaker – how they find him, how he agrees to help – and a surprising double cross. The deception makes sense when you think about it afterwards but came as a bombshell to me at least. Maybe I am too gullible when it comes to movies, who knows?

 

Rey learning from the master Luke after he changes his mind a bit and agrees to teach here are all good, but remind you of some earlier Hollywood movies nevertheless.

 

Also nice are the scenes where Kylo and Rey try to convince the other to desert their side and join the other person’s side. Powerful scenes, these.

 

When all seems lost, and they are surrounded and Kylo is ready with an overwhelming army to destroy them all, Luke appears and saves them to flee and fight another day. (And keeping the door open for another movie).

 

As you can see, there are a number of lovely bits to see and enjoy. Definitely a fun ride.

 

7/10

 

–  – Krishna

March 18, 2018

Book: The Slow Regard For Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 7:16 pm

imageI have an extremely high regard for Patrick Rothfuss. The only two books so far published in the King Killer Chronicles, The Name of The Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear are excellent, and so I could not wait to get my hands on this book. Like The Hedge Night of the other master fantasy storyteller George RR Martin, I expected a treat in Kvothe’s world that is not part of the main story but nevertheless as entertaining.

 

This book could not have been more different.

 

 

Tells the story of Auri but is a very small book, almost a short story. Auri is just tromping about in the tunnels. She gets some gear, and then moves around various rooms, rearranging things. Pretty little story, really and a complete waste of time reading this.

 

She arranges each room and explores new rooms. She goes endlessly arranging stuff. There is atmosphere but no story to support it and it gets very boring even to finish this tiny book.

 

She endlessly wanders around, the only link to the great Kingkiller Chronicles is the fact that she waits for Kvothe to arrive.

 

The endless wanderings, worrying about what is exactly right and what is not, worrying about what fits where, endlessly washing herself, and running around in the tunnels – all of these fit Auri’s character perfectly well but I do not understand what the point of the whole story is. It does not go anywhere, or do anything. It is like the diary of Auri, ending as arbitrarily as it began – oh, I know that she completes what she set out to do and there is a kind of ending to it, but I fail to see the whole point of investing time to read this book.

 

Give it a miss. You will not miss anything, and it certainly is not like the original series.

 

1/ 10

 

– – Krishna

February 25, 2018

Movie: Thor – Ragnarok (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 8:00 pm

imageFirst, about today’s Hollywood : What a revival of fortunes for Marvel, by  the way! In the comics crazy forties and fifties it reigned supreme and lay by the kerb until animation caught up with the imagination of the comic story creators so that Hollywood can adopt it fullscale and start churning out one after the other. Did those fail? No problem. Do not stop making them. Just ‘reboot’ them, telling the story from a different angle and it will become a hit.

 

Not that I do not enjoy the movies, but it struck me that most of the top grossers (Pixar excepted as they go in for original stories) are superhero films these days. (Or the other franchaises like Star Wars or Star Trek).

 

If you have seen the previous Thor movies, you realize that the scaffolding is the same. An enemy bent on destruction of (not the world but) Asgard, the hero saving it. Build in Loki’s mischief and other things, and you have got another movie to build within the framework.

 

In this, the initial demon enemy Surtur gets destroyed in the first few scenes (after the initial humour where Thor is hanging upside down dejected after his love dumps him)

 

Dr Strange is now in firmly in the franchaise and helps Loki and Thor by finding out that Odin is in Norway (They are trying to find him after Loki had put a spell on him and sent him initially to New York in order to assume Odin’s form and enjoy the throne of Asgard. This is actually the end of the previous Thor movie, if anyone still remembers it).

 

They discover that they have a sister who was consumed by the dark side. She, Hela, wants to take over Asgard. (Hela is played by Cate Blanchet, and her performance is nice. Not spectacular but nice.)

 

Hela seems not to fear Thor’s hammer, easily destroying it before our shocked eyes. She also enters the portal when Thor and Loki try to flee and also expels them before she herself reaches Asgard before them.

 

Loki becomes a slave in a strange planet ruled by a man called Grandmaster and is attached with a shocking device. Also Loki seems to be in a position of favour there. There is a scene where Thor meets and duels with Bruce Banner in the form of the Hulk and where, after he brings the Hulk back to his senses, convinces him and the rebel girl who captured him to join him in saving Asgard. The rest of the story goes on predictable lines.

 

Nice story and keeps interest going but you suddenly start to see Star Wars like scenes appearing with space ships and battles etc.

 

There are amazing gigantic hounds who are part of Hela’s army and the massive fight between the Hulk and the giants. There is also preaching about realizing your own potential and getting the inner strength from within. (Thor’s hammer is not strictly necessary for Thor to win, if he believes in himself enough.  Go figure).

 

Asgard ends up destroyed so that Thor can spend all his time in his new homeland to which he is now destined : The Earth. (And in Hollywood, the earth is always synonymous with the United States of America, of course).

 

Fun to watch but nothing new conceptually.   6/ 10

– – Krishna

February 10, 2018

Book: The Burning Land by Bernard Cornwell

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 4:35 pm

imageThis book continues the Saxon Stories – This comes after the previous books, all of which we have reviewed before :  The Last KingdomThe Pale Horseman , The Lords of The North and The Sword Song.

Bernard Cornwell stories are short, packed with twists and intrigue, and enjoyable to read – he has found the sweet spot in historical fiction – how to entertain on the basis of real history without being boring, and how to keep it short so that you do not lose those readers who will not read a book that is more than 300 pages long. Nice!

This book continues the story of Uhthred, but really, the story of King Alfred and successors.

Alfred is now old and besieged on two fronts and Uhthred, much to his dismay, has not been called to defend the west. He has been sent to bribe a Dane, Haestan,  to go away and takes two hostages, who both, Uhthred suspects, are fake.

 

Alfred finally calls him for help and Uhtred is thrilled. He captures Skade, his enemy’s girl and takes her to Alfred. He gives Alfred advice on how to defeat the Danish depredator Harold.

 

Alfred asks Uhtred to give his loyalty to his son Edward, as he knows he is very ill and may not live long.

 

Though much, including the central character Uhtred is fiction, you learn a lot of history through this series. For instance, Alfred was indeed sickly and pious throughout his life.

 

Harold recovers his girl Skade by threatening to kill a string of twenty eight Saxons in front of Uhtred if she is not released.  Uhtred lures him into a trap and wounds him, perhaps fatally.

 

The priests conspire to enrage Uhtred and he kills a blind priest and his punishment is to lose all his wealth, (his wife is dead in childbirth) and have his children as hostage to Alfred and declare his fealty to Edward, Alfred’s son. He runs away to be a free viking. Back to the pillaging days? He goes to see Ragnar in the North and plans to attack and take back Northumbria, his old citadel usurped by his uncle.

 

He needs gold and he plans to get it from attacking Skade’s ex husband. He lures the Viking and kills him but Skade turns vicious and hates Uhtred. Alfred is sick and the Danes including Ragnar plan to invade Wessex.

 

Pyrlig comes and lures Uhtred away from Ragnar back to Mercia as Uhtred had given his oath to Ethelflaed, Alfred’s daughter, who was in trouble with her husband who was trying to murder her and had taken refuge in a monastery. Skade goes with Haesten but hates Uhtred and so she comes and burns the monastery when Uhtred with Ethelflaed, his entourage and with his children had left the place.

 

He goes back to Ethelred, and plans how to repel Haesten and his tribes. When he invades the fortress of Haesten, there is this fantastic scene where he attacks the Danes recklessly and is saved by Steapa’s forces arriving at the last moment to save him. He also learns that Skade is the one who is controlling the fortress and Haesten is away, plundering. He wins the fortress due more to luck than strategy but for the bigger, well defended fortress, he plans brilliantly using sails and beehives in an unconventional manner. He is the classic rebel, fighting Christianity, Alfred and his son Edward and the bevy of priests while he serves them all. Nicely done,

 

Skade’s end is poetic and is very interesting. A nice book to read.

 

8/10

– – Krishna

 

January 26, 2018

Book: Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:39 pm

imageThis is the fifth book in the Dark Tower Series, after the abominable first one,  The Gunslinger, and the much better The Drawing of the Three, The Wastelands and Wizard And Glass. And it seems to get better and better as the story goes. This one is an exception in that the story is really nice but a couple of weird things mar the otherwise excellent story. More of it later. First, let us see the story.

Tian Jefford is trying to plough his fallow and hard land called Son of a Bitch. His sister Tia is mentally deficient and Andy is a robot messenger who brings news that the Wolves will come in a month – on horseback. They typically carry off the twins of which Tian has two sets; his “singleton” son is safe. He decides to call a town meeting to explorer resistance to save the babies in town. There is a tense hold-off in the town meeting with two opposing factions until the Old Man steps in and tells them about the gunslingers coming into town who can help the villagers against the Wolves. The Wolves are “more than men” under the command of an even more evil and strong masters.

 

Then there is a tangent where the group, after eating mushroom balls, they go into a dream where Eddie, Jack and Oy go to the past New York and watch old Jack enter the bookstore on his way to the black rose. And Balazzar of Eddie’s life turns up at the bookstore. I know that this is meant to create a web of interconnectedness with the Roland’s group (ka-tet as he calls it) but seems a bit excessive, combined with the fact that the same person was trying to kill both Susanne and Jake.

 

Then there is an ever weirder dream where Mia or Detta Walker or any of the other dozen souls inside Susanna eat an invisible buffet with Roland watching her. It is explained in the book. However, going back and forth in time recalls Book Two of the series The Drawing of the Three.

 

The Old Man finally comes for a talk with the ka-tet quartet. When they meet the rest of the people, he senses that Overholsler, a rich farmer, is against the idea of going against the Wolves. There is a long series of nineteens that crop up until Eddie learns about the Directive Nineteen. Andy seems to have been shut up about the Wolves and asks for a password.

 

That night they all see the rose again in a fugue state and also see vagabond spirits or “vags”.

 

They then are received by the townspeople. Meanwhile, we learn that what grows in Susannah’s body is not Eddie’s child but probably some demon seed.

 

The priest Callahan (“the Old Man”) turns out to have a tie in with the earlier book of King, Salem’s Lot. He is a drunk, reforms, kills vampires and takes to drink again. The Low Men (Men in Yellow Jackets with the pet posters and all) figure in this story as well. So a neat tie to not only Salem’s Lot but also to Hearts in Atlantis too! (Though, to be fair, the latter story deliberately borrows from the Tower series material and thus is a kind of a branch story)

 

Roland gets a quick glimpse of the evil black ball.He rallies the town and gets to see the Titanium plate that can be thrown as a weapon. Eisenhower, a sceptic on the wisdom of resisting the Wolves has a wife Margaret who was the thrower and came from the enemy Manni tribe, forsaking everyone for her love of her husband.

Old Pere (Tian’s grandpa?) remembers how a throwing plate killed a Wolf a long time ago.

 

Eddie goes back in time to save Tower from getting a savage beating. When he is back, Jake decides to uncover the treachery of Slightman the Elder, despite his close friendship with the latter’s son. Andy the robot is the Trojan Horse.

 

Jake follows them and exposes their treachery to Roland. Then Roland learns the truth about who the wolves really are and what their vulnerability is. There is an exhilerating sequence where Andy is neutralized, Ben Slightman is exposed privately and warned, and then the entire village’s fight with the wolves with Roland first deceiving them about the location of the kids and then getting rid of them with the help of the ka tet quartet as well as several villages. Two of the townsfolks die in the battle. Beautiful.

 

The story has a second climax when Susannah’s alter ego takes her todash and the rest of the ka tet tries to follow her to save her from herself, which is really the start of the next one, as this one ends abruptly there

 

A pity that Stephen King, rather like Wilbur Smith in the Seventh Scroll, could not resist putting himself (and a book of his) inside the story. Though this is mercifully brief, it is still annoying.

 

7/10

 

–  – Krishna

 

Movie: War For The Planet of The Apes (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:22 pm

imageWhat a brilliant movie! I thought that the reboot of the Planet of the Apes, the first movie which was released in 2004, Dawn of The Planet of the Apes was absolutely brilliant. When I heard that this sequel was coming out, initially I did not even want to see this because, in my mind, the first story is fully complete, with lovely characterizations and an ending that looks complete. (Can you remember Caesar and the almost equally impressive Koba?)  What else can be said of the story that has not been said in that movie.

 

But because the first movie was so impressive, I decided to give this a view and am glad I did. Because, it looks as if the story writers have plenty to say about that world. This story happens 15 years later than the first movie and is exhilarating right from the very first scene where the human army tries to ambush the ape troop and the fight that ensues. It does not let up until the very end.

 

The characters are as interesting. You see the turncoat ape Red (who is constantly humiliated by the humans – being called ‘donkey’ is the mildest of them) helping humans. When they lose and are captured, Caesar pardons them and sends them back, so that the humans can “learn” that the apes are peaceful creatures and want only to coexist with the humans, albeit segregated. That, as some of you would have suspected, dangerously backfires. The sudden attack by fortified human army is chilling and your sympathy is completely with the apes and against the humans – funny, considering that you are human. That is the magic of the film.

 

I can tell you more of the story – the story goes through mind boggling action sequences, hopelessness when troves of the monkeys and, later, Caesar himself is captured and how it ends – but that would spoil your enjoyment. Instead, I will talk about some of the movie features.

 

It is brilliantly written and directed. The sentences are short, sharp and delivered with effect. The characters are lovely. There are some apes (presumably not as evolved) that communicate by sign language and some that can speak.

 

The super villain in this movie is Colonel McCollough, played beautifully by Woody Harrelson. He seems to be four steps ahead of Caesar and his apes. He causes Caesar to lose family members in a surprise raid when the apes were sleeping and also later, as I said, is the cause of the troop’s capture.

 

The ‘thief’ of their kit, called Bad Ape is an interesting creature and is of invaluable help to the three lone apes searching to rescue their comrades, later. They realize that the Colonel himself has other human enemies and at the critical moment, a three way battle ensues. The storytelling, the scenes, the dialogs, the emotions all make it stand out as an outstanding movie. I will have no hesitation in declaring this as at least as good as the first movie. Well done, guys.

 

8/10

–  –  Krishna

December 28, 2017

Book: The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 2:18 pm

imageThis is the second book in the series King Killer Chronicles, the exhilarating first book, The Name of the Wind, was reviewed earlier here. I don’t want to repeat myself but I am frustrated by the reluctance of authors like Patrick Rothfuss and George RR Martin to finish what they have so gloriously started but I realize I am not alone in this one!

 

This story takes off where the old one ends. The setting is the same. Kvothe tells his own story to the Chronicler, so all of this is really a reminiscence of the past by Kvothe. But apart from the breaks where we come back to the ‘present’ the story flows coherently and effortlessly from Patrick’s skilled narration. Here is the gist of the story.

 

Kote appears very tired and Bast is worried sick. When the Chronicler returns from his long sleep, Bast privately pleads with him to make Kote remember who he really is.

 

The story continues exactly from where it left off in the first book. Kvothe (the ‘real’ Kote)  now is desperate to collect enough talents to continue his studies in the university. He is unable to find a patron and plays a musical joke on the audience in his performance at the Inn.

 

Elodin takes him up as a student and also has his access to the Archives reinstated. Kvothe also discovers that the mad Master Elodin knows Auri.

 

He meets Denna again and realizes that Ambrose took a ring of sentimental value and never gave it  back. so he goes to steal it for her. Ends in a miserable failure and also realizes that he is the target of wizardry and protects himself by initially having someone watch him when he sleeps and keeping his Alar (defence) up when he is awake. He burns bridges with Devi when he suspects her of having provided his blood to someone at Ambrose’s request.

 

Finally realizes that Ambrose is to blame and tries to lure him with the stunningly beautiful Fela whom Simmon, his friend, is beginning to fall in love with.

 

He also thinks his lute is stolen until he realizes that it is returned to him with a great case as a gift by Deanna.

 

He takes revenge on Ambrose by starting a fire in his apartment and destroying the wax / clay puppet used to target himself by Ambrose.

 

Kvothe loses Denna for a while. (What is she? The book implies that she does favours to her patrons, but does not explain what those favours might be). He also demonstrates a device that will stop arrows shot at any particular target.

 

He is arrested for “sorcery” – the earlier incident of Calling the Wind – and that scene is fabulous  to read. Then he is released but it has deep ramifications on his future.

 

He is forced to take a term off from University and then goes to serve a very rich man in Vinitas, the Maer. He foils a plot to poison him by his own medic Claudicon who is also an arcanist. He then successfully helps his benefactor woo the woman the Maer wants. He goes to catch bandits. All beautifully told and really more interesting than the dry narration above. Read the book for the full effect.

 

He then  meets Denna and has a flaming row with her. Then the Maer sends him hunting for highway robbers who are threatening the tax collectors and hence his income. Kvothe learns tracking skills with Marten, one of the team mates. Tempi, the funny Adem warrior, slowly becomes a friend. All this until Kvothe realizes that the Maer has sent him deliberately to what he hoped would be his, Kvothe’s,  death.

 

When they find the bandit camp, in spite of Dedan getting almost captured, Kvothe saves the day in an unbelievable set of amazing feats which are fantastic to read. The leader of the camp seems to have escaped, indeed vanished into thin air so to speak, but before that Kvothe glimpses something familiar about him but could not put his finger on it. A wicked tree later tells him that it was the chief of Chandrian in disguise.

 

Then he meets, on his way back, Felurian, a faerie that lures men like a siren into her clutches and never lets them go. He manages to escape unhurt using all his wiles. Brilliant narration again. He gets a cloak of Shadow from her and returns. He also meets the tree that can tell the future.

 

Tempi, glad to have him back,  teaches him Adem language and also the way of the Lathani, he goes with Tempi to Adem to defend the latter. A lovely description of Adem culture, the significance of hand gestures (which Kvothe always thought of as fidgeting initially) are all very well told.

 

How he gets admitted to the Hammer, his serial humiliations and his triumph in the Test with the spinning leafs tree are all wonderfully told. Patrick seems to be able to create an entirely new culture and city and seamlessly take you through its intricacies, which is fun to read. (And increases your frustration that the third installment is nowhere to be seen, with not even a publishing date announced!)

 

Some parts are contrived, where Adem think that sex has nothing to do with babies. Kvothe’s  final farewell and leaving Ademre is interesting. He then joins an Edema group and finds out that they are not Edema Ruh at all and also rescues two girls and takes them back to their town.

 

He is back with Maer now. There is a thrilling interlude where, to your horror, the invincible Kvothe is beaten up badly by just two ordinary thugs in front of the Chronicler. You don’t realize how much you identify with Kvothe and his powers until you realize that you are in shock!

 

How he decides to leave the Maer is also very interesting. Maer’s  wife’s visceral hatred of the Edema Ruh plays a part.

 

Back at the University, he finds Simmons and Fela are together now and he catches up with Deanna again. His arrangements with the bursar makes him rich for the first time ever.

 

Exhilarating narration. At least as good as the first one . Can’t wait for the next (and the last, as this is supposed to be a trilogy) installment.

 

8/10

–  – Krishna

December 21, 2017

Movie: Wonder Woman (2017)

Filed under: Hollywood Movies — Tags: , , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 11:04 pm

image.jpgThis one took the world by storm and launched Gal Godot, the Israeli actress into the world of US Sequels. Some of you may know that she won this solo role based on the smaller role she did as Wonder Woman in the earlier Batman vs Superman movie but based on the buzz that this one received, she is now one of the sought after stars, as they say ‘in the Hollywood firmament’.

 

But I have multiple gripes about this film. I confess that, even though I grew up reading comics so long ago, I have not read the Wonder Woman series when it came out as comics and so this movie may be truthfully following the comic books but I still do not like it. What am I complaining about? Mixing jingoism with a fast paced story. I know that some of you will point out that the entire existence of Captain America is jingoistic. That I can take. After all the entire army of Superheroes seem to make America their primary home and protecting other countries is just an incidental benefit when they primarily save Americans from evil forces. But at least they fight the supernatural villains. Here, the whole story is about fighting the Nazi Germans. They just gave a double twist – one of them being who is the real super villain who is orchestrating the whole thing; and the second, making that person a divine deity taking human form to deceive others.

 

In spite of this, this is all about an all American pilot Steve Taylor (played well by Chris Pine, he of the newly rebooted Star Trek series fame) and Diana aka Wonder Woman, who does not realize her own divinity until very late into the movie, played to perfection by Gal Godot. They battle the evil Germans to the bitter end, and also face Ares, the God who turned evil and wreaks destruction upon the whole world through Nazis, silently, until forced at the end to take on the elemental Super Villain form to battle it out one on  one with Wonder Woman.

 

The movie is fast paced enough. Well made with tight sequences with a faux evil man fronting all the time – and it is a genuine surprise when he (relatively) tamely dies in the hands of the Wonder Woman. Minutes later, we realize who the real deal is. This is a nice surprise!

 

Let us briefly think about the story. Diana grows up in an Amazonian island where God Zeus hid them to escape the wrath of  Ares, the fallen God (Shades of Satan, the fallen angel, right?) She learns to fight in spite of her mother’s reluctance because the mother realizes that the fight is coming with Ares and that only the God Killer, the special sword that they have as a gift from Zeus. She becomes superlative in her fight and unwittingly hurts her teacher through anger translate to a powerful blow. That is a hint to us about her supernatural abilities (as if we could not tell from the title of the movie) though she does not understand what it is. The fact of her supernatural origins is kept a secret from her. Of course.

She meets and falls in love with the pilot Steve Taylor when he and the Germans following him crash into the hidden Amazonian world. The Germans have guns and the women have only swords and arrows and predictably a slaughter ensues even though ultimately, by sheer expertise in war, the women win. One of the slain is the teacher, dear to Diana’s heart.

 

Diana leaves with Steve knowing that Ares is behind the evil force of the Nazis (huh? This is where I lost the ‘even cartoon world’ logic that they were trying to portray) and that she had to find and kill him. She of course takes the God Killer with her with her mother’s consent.

 

Hilarious scenes follow of her trying to understand modern American way of life – it is kind of predictable but still cute and endearing. They both predictably fall in love and in the end, she is left alone – no doubt to pursue or be pursued by suitable other romantic interests in the sequels.

 

Ares tests her to the limit and she almost gets killed a number of times, escaping by a hair’s breadth. So it is all interesting and fun but the nagging entanglement of the War and the Good Vs Evil still seems out of place in a superhero movie.

Good entertainment but I would give it a 6/10, perhaps shocking many of you.

–  –  Krishna

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