Friday, March 24, 2017

Beauty & the Beast

   By this point it is very clear that Disney intends to do live-action remakes of a lot of their classic feature film cartoons. I am of two minds about it; on one hand it shows the lack of originality, but on the other it is interesting to see how they adapt a cartoon. Unlike Maleficent, which was an alternate take on Sleeping Beauty, this film is pretty much a retelling of the original with only a few minor tweaks of fleshing out Belle and the Beast's backstories and the addition of some new songs. Emma Watson does well as Belle and Dan Steven, while mainly a CGI Beast, still managed to convey anger and charm in his performance. Luke Evans makes a decent Gaston, though he seems to be more of a terrible person this go-round, while Josh Gad plays a more sympathetic version of LeFou. The new enchanted characters featuring Ewan MacGregor (Lumiere), Ian McKellan (Cogsworth), and Emma Thompson (Mrs. Potts) all did well bringing their characters to life. As for the musical numbers, they are all entertaining, but I admit that I prefer the originals best. I did like the design of the castle and all its enchanted characters, they had an authentic look about them while not looking too cartoonish. Ultimately it is a decent movie that is entertaining but was not exactly something that just had to be made. I figure there will be plenty more live action adaptations on the way, however.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

The Towering Inferno

It's opening night for the world's tallest skyscraper and the party is on the 135th floor but disaster looms when fire breaks out on the 81st floor and threatens to consume the entire structure.

Featuring Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Fred Astaire, & OJ Simpson this disaster film from 1974 is still a lot of fun to watch. It has great effects, even if they are slightly dated, great stars, and a great score by John Williams. It would be fun to watch this on the big screen. I wonder if people in '74 were afraid of tall buildings after watching this?

The really great thing about these older effects heavy films is all the practical effects they have. Sure CGI has its place but there is nothing like seeing something actually there even if it is just a model.

Book Thoughts: The Martian Chronicles

I finally got around to reading this after having it on my kindle for quite a while. It is a story that is very much a dim view of the future from the 1950s Cold War perspective. Many short stories are strung together to create this small book about going to Mars. It has a lot to say on matters of the then current world much like any science fiction does but it is not cheerful or optimistic.

Something about it kept me coming back to keep reading through it even though there is rarely a sense of hope throughout the book. The Martians start off as really no better than humans, the humans no different than they've always been, and after a bit the Martian are all almost wiped to extinction by the unknown germs brought from earth making them the Native Americans to the Earth men's Europeans. However, as the book progresses we find that most people who have settled Mars have come for the same reasons settlers came to America and yet after all those history lessons they didn't do much better. When war breaks out back on Earth most people head back home leaving Mars a forgotten wasteland of unfulfilled potential and a devastated Martian people. Everything seems all for naught in this book which is why I can't decide if ultimately I liked it or not, but odds are I will read through it again which says a lot. At the very least it has the beautiful poem by Sara Teasdale about the indifference nature would have on the extinction of mankind:

There Will Come Soft Rains
by Sara Teasdale (1920)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.