Friday, February 29, 2008

The Spiderwick Chronicles

Movie: The Spiderwick Chronicles

I haven't read the children's book(s) this was based on, so I can't compare, but this is a decent kid-friendly film, though it's not earth-shatteringly original or particularly innovative. It reminded me a lot of Luc Besson's Arthur and the Minimoys (which I actually liked better). In both cases the premise is that we live in a world where we are surrounded by invisible faires and it requires secret knowledge to learn to see them. Spiderwick the film doesn't explain much about these secrets so it's unclear exactly what the main character does, but basically he and his family move into an ancient house of an old aunt and he discovers an old book of secrets protected by a brownie and learns about the world of magical creatures. It turns out there's an even shape-shifting orgre who wants the book so he can take over the world, but the house is protected by a charm. The little boy's family doesn't believe his stories until later, when he and his brother and sister all confront the bad creatures and try to save the book and the family. It's all convoluted and confused; there's no explanation of why the creatures weren't trying to get the book earlier, why the boy can't find help in the book (except when it's convenient for the plot), how he expects to defeat the evil by hiding out in the house, or a million other loose ends, but this is a harmless adventure for kids, so I guess that means logic need not apply. It's still mildly fun, there's a hint of personal growth for the boy as he copes with his parents' divorce, and the digital creatures are interesting, though perhaps too realisitic for really young kids. Overall this isn't terrible nor great; it certainly is nowhere near the story-telling level of the Narnia series or Bridge to Terabithia.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Book Pre-Interest Strong

This week I began pre-sales of my forthcoming book, Eat BIG While Eating Lean and so far the interest has been amazing; much higher than I anticipated. In just a few days I've already sold several dozen books!

It really makes me hopeful that the book will be of help to people. It's always difficult to judge these things, especially when you're so personally involved. I mean, the techniques I discuss helped me lose 75 pounds, and I find the process of learning to eat healthy interesting and not difficult, but what will others think?

The book is in the final editing stages and will be shipping in March 2008. It'll be available in print and PDF formats; there's lots more information about it on the Eating Big blog link above. I'm also creating a companion software program for tracking nutritional information -- pre-orders of the printed book will receive a free license to the software!


Friday, February 22, 2008

Vantage Point

Movie: Vantage Point

This movie had an interesting premise of a presidential asassination seen from multiple perspectives, a number of prominent stars, and a relentless advertising campaign that all made it seem like it could be a decent movie. Unfortunately, they were all proven wrong. Yes, there are some good actors, but the screen time of each is brief and they aren't given much character to work with. The film hinges on the gimmicky "perspective" idea, so we see the same events from several view points, which sounds neat but turns out to be repetative, tiresome, and new information trickles out so slowly that each time the story "restarts" you want to scream with frustration because you know it'll be ten minutes before you get back to where you left off and get a new piece of the puzzle. But worst of all, the final "revelations" are decidedly lackluster. The promos have spoiled any real surprise (that the assasinated man was a double, not the real prez), and the ending is just a whimper. Lame.


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mistress of Justice

Book: Mistress of Justice
Writer(s): Jeffery Deaver

A disappointing early Deaver book, this is about a female jazz pianist who works as a paralegal at a law firm and ends up becoming an amateur sleuth when a senior attorney brings her under his wing to find him a stolen legal document. Unfortunately, the web of complicated potential criminals is far too large and there are way too many sub-plots going on. The law firm is in political upheaval as half the board wants to merge with another firm while half oppose it, so there are all kinds of shenanigans going on as different powerful lawyers try to sabotage or encourage the merger. Meanwhile we've got mysterious suicides and potential murder attempts. This goes on for way too many pages while we haven't a clue what's going on. Finally, just in time, the stolen legal document is found, the bad guy caught, and everything seems concluded... but the book just keeps on going. After several dreary chapters when nothing happens, the girl finally figures out the obvious -- that a suicide was really a murder, and we're back to our huge suspect pool. The final conclusion, with the typical Deaver twist, is not outrageous or even unlikely, but it is disappointing and feels forced and artificial. It's like Deaver's trying too hard. I'd recommend the condensed version of the book if you feel you must.


Friday, February 15, 2008


Movie: Jumper

This is a mildly amusing little sci-fi adventure about a kid who learns he has the ability to teleport. He uses this talent to escape his deadbeat dad, rob banks for a living, and travel the world, but of course he always longs for the girl he left back home. Then he finds out there's a guy chasing him and the movie turns into a low-calorie version of the Underworld clash of species -- in this case there are "jumpers" and "paladin" who've been at war for centuries under our unsuspecting noses. When the lead Paladin goes after the guy's girl, it's up to the jumper to step in and save her. There's not much science here, with minimal explanation about how these teleportation powers work, and really little attempt at logic, realism, storytelling, or anything else intelligent. But then again, none of those are things you should be looking for in this kind of a film. As a dumb, silly, special-effects actioner, it's kinda fun -- though the special effects-driven action is too rapid to be interesting and the characters are too lightly sketched to actually concern us. Still, it's harmless and fun, and there are worst ways to waste your time.


Sunday, February 3, 2008


Movie: London

Now this is a terrible movie. First, the plot is so threadbare it's ridiculous: a guy finds out his old girlfriend is moving away without telling him and he crashes her going-away party to say good-bye. That's it. Nothing else happens except for angst and bitching and flashbacks of the same. The climax -- yes, I will "spoil" it for you -- is the guy finally having the "courage" to say the words, "I love you" to his ex-girl friend, words he couldn't say while they were together (he wrote them on her shoulder but couldn't say them). How lame is that?

Second, the creators are obviously pseduo-intellectuals who wanted so bad to make an "intelligent" movie that the script is filled with inane conversations and dribble about God and the universe and stuff that is supposed to sound smart yet comes across as either pretentious or dumb.

Third, the characters are all such losers -- drug-sniffing alcoholics who swear and fight and wear their misery for all the world to see -- that you can barely stand to watch them, let alone care about them or figure out how in the world they ended up together.

Finally, the cast, while gorgeous and young, are absolutely horrible actors, at least with this material. The fights and shouting feels staged, the anger comes across as random and pointless -- even the love-making is awkward it makes you go "Huh?" Just a terrible, terrible movie. Stay away, very far away.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Over Her Dead Body

Movie: Over Her Dead Body

I didn't hold out much hope for this, and for good reason, as it is as trite as it sounds. It's mildly entertaining, however, with an excellent cast. The plot is pretty much what you know from the trailer -- Eva Longoria's character was killed on her wedding day and she comes back as a ghost to haunt her fiance's new girlfriend. Unfortunately, the script mucks this up by having the new girlfriend be a psychic, which just confuses everything, and the film low-balls into some dangerously lame slapstick and crude humor (i.e. a fart scene). There are a handful of interesting moments in the film, and some of the romance between the new girlfriend and the boyfriend are nice, but moments clipped together do not make a film. Overall this is nothing original and though it's mild and not horrible, it's barely good either. Disappointing.