The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

169 min.

Wat is er nog over te zeggen?

hobbit-dwarves-poster
MGM

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is het eerste deel van de The Hobbit trilogie (er zijn tenslotte nog mensen die niet weten dat het drie films worden). Naast het verhaal van het boek The Hobbit (in deze film tot aan de Eyrie), wordt er ook uit The Unfinished Tales and Silmarillion gevist, om verschillende karakters (meer) achtergrond te geven.
De film is naast 2D en 3D ook in 48HFR (high frame rate) te zien waardoor alles nog mooier, helderder, strakker enzovoorts er uit zou moeten zien.

Als fan van Tolkiens werk is het fijn om weer terug te zijn in Middle-Earth. En dat het een kinderboek is, betekent niet dat Peter Jackson het tot een kinderfilm heeft vermaakt. Elke actiescène gaat voor het achtbaan-effect met swingende camera’s, de bad guys zijn naar en dreigend en met de extra informatie moet het lange termijngeheugen ook nog aan de slag.

Maar het is ook duidelijk deel één van een trilogie. Lijnen worden in het zand gelegd, maar nog niet doorgetrokken. Het leggen van fundamenten haalt soms het tempo onderuit. De fan zal het niet uitmaken en komt de niet-fan sowieso wel bij deze film terecht? Het blijft tenslotte een boekverfilming en dan ook nog van een fantasy verhaal. Toch als leek nieuwsgierig? Vooral gaan kijken, maar laat die extra rambam van 3D en HFR lekker achterwege.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, MGM 2012

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Red Glove

I don’t know whether it’s day or night when the girl gets up to leave.

Red Glove is het tweede boek in de The Curse Workers serie. Het element dat mij de vorige keer zo positief verraste, is deze keer dus minder nieuw. Dat maakt Red Glove een fractie minder vermakelijk, naast het feit dat het aan de serie-ziekte lijdt: het plot van eerdere boek(en) wordt gekopieerd en met andere gegevens in-/aangevuld.

Maar het fijne van Red Glove is hoe ze magie in de samenleving plaatsen. Mensen met magie (‘workers’) zijn geen geluksvogels, maar paria’s die liever hun kunnen stil houden. Ze gebruiken hun magie door iemand aan te raken en kunnen dan iemand doden, gedachten vernietigen of wijzigen, iemand transformeren, dromen beïnvloeden enzovoorts. Daarom dragen ze handschoenen. Een groot deel workers zit in de georganiseerde misdaad, de rest lijdt onder dat imago.

Hoofdpersoon Cassel moet deze keer de moord van zijn broer oplossen, terwijl zowel de FBI als de mafia graag zijn loyaliteit willen. Daarnaast wil hij ook nog zijn moeder uit de problemen houden en proberen een normaal schoolleven te faken.

Eigenlijk wil ik dus vooral de serie aanraden voor de originele behandeling van magie. Dat het vermakelijke YA is, is alleen maar een plus.

Red Glove, Holly Black, Gollancz 2011

Runelight

Five past midnight in World’s End, three years after the End of the World, and, as usual, there was nothing to be seen or heard in the catacombs of the Universal City – except, of course, for the rats and (if you believed in them) the ghosts of the dead.

The second book (a blurb on the back shares with much delight ‘Several books!’ so I don’t know how many are yet to come) about Norse gods, runes, the end of the world and a young girl wham-bam in the middle of it. Runelight happens a couple of years after the adventures of the previous book, but there’s a helpful summary from Joanne Harris in the start in case you’ve forgotten what happened.

This time main character Maddy discovers that she has a twin. The only problem is that the bad guy has her and is brain-washing her to start the end of the world (again). Maddy was quite successful to prevent the previous one, but what do you do when you have to fight your just discovered sibling?

The twin is the only new element in this story, which pretty much copies the previous book with (unwanted) discoveries, gods down on their luck and one of the main players (presumed) dead. It is for Joanne Harris’ easy, entertaining writing that it doesn’t feel like you’re reading the first book for the second time. Yes, Maddy and her twin Maggie are sometimes annoying teenagers who make dumb mistakes. They are also two seventeen year olds with the weight of the worlds on their back, which might cut them some slack.

And  I like it so much what Harris does with the gods. Running gags, arrogance and self-doubts; they are the cherry on the cake. Don’t expect to be blown away, simply enjoy.

Runelight, Joanne Harris, Doubleday 2011

Dead and Gone

“Caucasian vampires should never wear white,” the television announcer intoned.

Here we are again, back with Sookie Stackhouse. With series like these (every novel has basically the same story line with extras and locations that are swapped around) it is somehow less easier to review it. Haven’t you read and reviewed all of them when you read one? Will there be a time that Sookie Stackhouse follows through on her idea of laying off dating and dangerous men in her life? Either way, on to the story.

Sookie Stackhouse  finds her sister-in-law (a were-panther) crucified in the parking lot of her job. Faeries are after her. Good looking men circle around her to protect her or kill her. She comes into some money and gets severely hurt. I have skipped the last three books before this one and could still pick up on every plot line. It is simply how it goes.

And yet – like the chicklits I told myself I was going to stop reading – it’s all very enjoyable. Yes, Charlaine Harris has the annoying habit to describe everyone’s clothing and hair and using the word ‘nub’ in a sex scene might have been the most libido-killing thing I ever read, but she knows how to tell an entertaining story. It moves fast, reads easily and oh well, there is almost an illusion things won’t end up right. It’s a snack.

A snack you don’t want to have every day or even every week, so I’ll say goodbye to Sookie Stackhouse for a few other novels. It’s not like I’ll be missing something anyway.

Dead and Gone, Charlaine Harris, Ace Books 2009

 

Snake Ropes

The tall men in boats are coming.

I feel like a lot of this story went straight over my head. And I feel bad and a bit disappointed about that, because it has (/it looks like it has) enough elements to make reading Snake Ropes an amazing, slightly disturbing experience.

Snake Ropes tells the stories of Mary and Morgan. Mary lives on a small, sheltered-from-the-real-world, island. Her father trades with ‘the tall men’ and every family needs to hide their sons because it is thought the tall men take those with them. Morgan lives on the same island, but is even more sheltered because of the huge gate her unstable mother built around the house. Mary’s life starts to change when her brother is taken, while Morgan tries to find her way out of the gate, out of the jail that is her house. There are also talking keys, ropes that act like snakes, an alive house of punishment and a giant woman involved.

It takes Snake Ropes ’till around page 290 to start giving some less vaguer hints about what could have gone wrong. In a book with 342 pages, that is -for me- kinda late. I tried to cobble together what the relationship could be between Mary and Morgan, why the boys are leaving, how do the tall men fit in, but nothing. I’m very bad in just taking a story in, I want to get some kind of control over it. In this case I just felt too much like a bystander and that also made it harder to care about the characters, to not feel like I was struggling through the pages.

Maybe I’ll re-read it some day and understand. Maybe there is nothing to understand and it is simply a very tangled net and I should skip around the knots instead of trying to free them. But for now I am left behind with a taste of bewilderment and disappointment in my mouth.

Snake Ropes, Jess Richards, Sceptre 2012

Runemarks

Seven o’clock on a Monday morning, five hundred years after the End of the World, and goblins had been at the cellar again.

Joan Harris is the writer of -much loved by me- Chocolat. I didn’t know she wrote ‘YA’ and only realized later that I recognized the style, because I read her adult stuff.
Because just as with her novels (for grownups), Runemarks is an easy, entertaining read and I can’t really imagine why it would only be for young adults.

Main character Maddy carries a runemark in a world where everything that reeks of magic, other worlds or not-humans is frowned upon or -in some places- killed upon. This makes her an outsider, alone until she meets another outsider who starts teaching her about her abilities. Those start to become necessary when the inquisitors of this world start a witch-hunt and daily life in a small village turns into running with (demi-)gods and goblins. There is also a new End of the World involved.

First of all, I love myths being used to spice a story up. Secondly, Maddy is a cool, smart badass without turning into an unbelievable teenager. She uses her brain, yet still makes mistakes from time to time. Thirdly, you race through this story because it’s written so ..light, but it still sticks with you after finishing it.

So ignore the ‘YA’ tag (if you’re afraid of those), and enjoy Maddy kicking the asses of Odin and his family  (and some scary religious fundamentalists).

Runemarks, Joan Harris, Doubleday 2007

The Waterproof Bible

The limousine taking Rebecca Reynolds and Lewis Taylor to the funeral had stalled in the middle of an intersection.

Rebecca can’t stop broadcasting her feelings to people around her. Lewis meets a woman who claims to be God. A mermaid/human hybrid named Aby (short for Aberystwyth) left the ocean for the first time to search for her mother. Oh, and a pair of rainmakers that can really make it rain. With almost lethal result.
Amused by this? Get the book. Cocking your eyebrow in a ‘Oh, really now?’ fashion? Escapes are on your left.

The Waterproof Bible has a lot going on that places it firmly in the ‘quirky, absurd’ category of books. Yet Kaufman balances that part perfectly with a plot line about growing up, (and) moving on in/with life, without making either too much. Aby’s race is interesting, the characters are portrayed in such a way that neither of them are turned into caricatures and the entire story feels like a faerie tale from another world.

The only thing that stuck just the tiniest bit in my caw was the lack of answers. Towards the ending some plot lines end pretty much like ‘Well it is what it is’. But, because the entire story lacks any highs and lows that will rock your world  it isn’t even so much of a bother, if you can survive a book that will leave you with a shrug and an ‘okay’.

The Waterproof Bible, Andrew Kaufman, Telegram 2010