Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Casting Couch: The Dark Tower

So, there's been quite a bit of bitching talk about the potential casting of Idris Elba as Roland Deschain in the upcoming Dark Tower movie.  While not my first choice for Roland, I have no qualms with this casting, as Elba is a fine actor.  But it got me thinking about the main roles of the series and whom to cast for each.  And I thought, why not hear other people's thoughts on this awesome?  I remember when Nathaniel of The Film Experience had a casting session for Les Miserables and the Internet rallied around Hugh Jackman for Valjean, so maybe some sort of inspired pick will happen here.

My first choices (with character description):
Roland Deschain - Last of the Gunslingers, a knightly order in a world that has 'moved on.'  Agewise, he should be hard to pinpoint.  As the series is somewhat of a Western mixed with Fantasy elements, he should have some grittiness to him.  My first choice:  Viggo Mortensen  Alternate:  Daniel Craig

Eddie Dean - A heroin addict who joins Roland on his quest for The Dark Tower.  Eddie should be in his early 20s and have the look of being addicted for several years.  My first choice:  Nicholas Hoult  Alternate:  Daniel Radcliffe

Susannah Dean - A wheelchair-bound black woman who lost both her legs when pushed in front of a train.  Has a split personality to start with.  Should be in her mid-to-late 20s (if I am remembering correctly).  My first choice:  Lupita Nyong'o  Alternate:  Shareeka Epps

Jake Chambers - A young boy of 11 whom Roland first encounters while pursuing the Man in Black, and later reunites with due to a paradox.  No choices for this one, as casting this role will be exceptionally hard since Jake shouldn't age much throughout the 7 books, which will be tricky for the producers.  I could see them aging him slightly to lessen that problem.

The Man in Black aka Randall Flagg - A sorcerer being pursued by Roland.  Should be another that appears ageless, and should also be able to be both charming and dangerous at the same time.  My first choice:  Michael Fassbender  Alternate:  Daniel Dae Kim

Jack Mort - A sociopathic man who randomly pushes people (he is the one that kills Jake originally, and is responsible for Susannah losing her legs) and drops objects onto them to kill them.  No age given, so that can be played with.  My first choice:  Oscar Isaac  Alternate:  Jonah Hill

There are other prominent roles, but those are the biggies for the first two books.  Who would you cast?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

2016 Movie List

The Movies:
1)  Rogue One
2)  Finding Dory
3)  Captain America:  Civil War
6)  Deadpool
7)  Zootopia
9)  Suicide Squad
10)  Sing!
11)  Moana
13)  Doctor Strange
17)  X-Men: Apocalypse
19)  La La Land
20)  Kung Fu Panda 3
21)  Ghostbusters
27)  Independence Day: Resurgence
29)  Arrival
31)  Sausage Party
44)  10 Cloverfield Lane
57)  Fences
68)  Kubo and the Two Strings
70)  Warcraft
89)  Hail, Caesar!
92)  Moonlight
98)  The Witch
132)  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
199)  Train to Busan

(Numbers are box office rank for year)

Top 5 Movies:
La La Land
Arrival (winner)
Kubo and the Two Strings
Train to Busan
HM:  Captain America: Civil War, 10 Cloverfield Lane

Best Actress:
Emma Stone, La La Land
Amy Adams, Arrival
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane
Viola Davis, Fences (winner)
Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch
HM: Ginnifer Goodwin, Zootopia, Auli'i Cravalho, Moana

Best Actor:
Chris Evans, Captain America: Civil War
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
John Goodman, 10 Cloverfield Lane (winner)
Denzel Washington, Fences
Gong Yoo, Train to Busan
HM:  Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool

Best Supporting Actress:
Kate McKinnon, Ghostbusters
Tilda Swinton, Hail, Caesar!
Naomie Harris, Moonlight (winner)
Kate Dickie, The Witch
Ye Soo-jung, Train to Busan
HM:  Leslie Jones, Ghostbusters

Best Supporting Actor:
Daniel Bruhl, Captain America: Civil War
Stephen Henderson, Fences
Alden Ehrenreich, Hail, Caesar! (winner)
Trevante Rhodes, Moonlight
Ralph Ineson, The Witch
HM:  Jeremy Renner, Arrival

Friday, February 5, 2016

The Dead Zone review

The Dead Zone follows two separate figures - a crazy politician and a man who wakes from a four year coma with psychic powers - throughout multiple years (and election cycles), culminating in the Psychic trying to stop the Politician after he has a vision of him leading the U.S. and the world to ruin.

Now, this is a solid premise and aspects of this novel work incredibly well.  However, this story digresses so frequently that at this point I would rather call it more of an exercise in narrative meandering.

It's not a bad novel, just one that takes its time getting where it wants to go.  And because of this, the climax feels overly rushed, interspersed with a series of letters that overly explain main character Johnny Smith's thoughts and actions.

I just couldn't get into the main story when it had B, C, and D plots that were either more interesting or fully realized.  And that kills me, because part of the Politician aspects so greatly mirror the current election cycle that it could almost be seen as commentary on Cruz and/or Trump if it hadn't been written 37 years beforehand.

The good stuff is very good however.  Several scenes with Greg Stillson - the politician character - are downright chilling, and when Johnny goes into his various trances King sets a mood that almost takes the reader into the story, but then he stops for 20+ pages to diverge into material that has either already been covered or doesn't add anything to the main plot.

The whole book is so episodic in nature that when I saw that it was a television series, my first thought was "I bet it works better in that medium" instead of "They'll lose so much from the book doing that!"  Which, again, isn't a horrible thing, just frustrating in novel form.

I feel that if he had just focused on Johnny and his 'adventures' with his newfound power first, then switched to Stillson after they meet, he could have used the last part of the novel to tie them together.  Instead he jumps between the two while also periodically focusing on minor characters that provide more distraction than anything resembling depth.

Worth a read, but I doubt it will be reread anytime soon.

Pages:  402
Movie?:  A movie is 1983, and a TV series that ran from 2002-2007.
Dark Tower?:  Nothing in the novel proper connects it, but the events involving Frank Dodd are referenced in several others novels that are connected, so by proxy this one is.
Child Deaths?:  A 9-year-old girl is raped and strangled.
Penis Talk?:  Yes, the worst of which is an inner monologue from the rapist mentioned prior.
Grade:  B-

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Long Walk Review

The Long Walk is easily my favorite of the Bachman books that I have read (at this point I haven't read either Thinner or Blaze, so this could change).  And not by a slim margin.  This is easily the most solid premise (100 teenage boys forced to walk until only one remains), the most well-rounded protagonist (Ray Garraty, of Maine), a solid group of supporting characters, and a damned nihilistic ending that works well in the context of the greater narrative.

If there is one thing that unites the various Bachman works (Rage, The Long Walk, Roadwork, The Running Man, Thinner, The Regulators, and Blaze are the current line up), it is the dark nihilistic tones and endings that they have.  Evil is rarely defeated, and if it is, it is at far too high a cost.  The Long Walk embodies this as the reader follows the slow degradation of the core group of boys being followed, cheered on by a crowd that calls for their blood.

What King does well here is slowly build throughout the novel.  All of the participants volunteered for this, and at first they love the adulation of the crowd.  They are eager to meet The Major - a military figure who is apparent dictator of this futuristic United States.  As the novel progresses though, The Major becomes not only an object of scorn, but of hatred.  And the crowd stops focusing on individuals within and becomes The Crowd, an amorphous creature that terrifies the Walkers.

Ray Garraty is a solid protagonist.  He doesn't quite know why he feels the need to enter The Walk, but steadfastly refuses to step down when given the opportunity.  And he's likeable, which, after the parade of horrid protagonists scattered throughout the short stories of Night Shift, was a welcome change.

King also manages to differentiate the other Walkers quite well.  The majority aren't named, but those that are all manage to have distinct personalities, something that troubled King somewhat in The Stand.  Peter McVries is the standout of the supporting characters to me, with Stebbins being a close second.  Even a few barely-named Walkers get solid characterization, which shows King's improvement at quickly sketching together distinct personalities.

But the story is the biggest selling point for this novel.  Published in 1979 originally, one could easily see this as a metaphor for the reality TV craze that came about 20 years later.  It is horrifically realistic, making one think of the gladiatorial games of Rome in a present day setting.  Some will credit The Running Man for that prophetic vision, but The Long Walk truly captures the essence of what could eventually come.

Pages:  370
Movie?:  None at the moment, though the rights have been secured by Frank Darabont
Dark Tower?:  No connection
Child Deaths?:  99 of them for certain, the last is ambiguous
Penis Talk?:  Garraty gets an erection after fondling a female fan, another walker named Gribble gets one that ultimately leads to his death.  McVries offers to give Garraty a handjob, but it is unknown on whether he is serious.
Grade:  A-