Posts tagged ‘Mission Impossible’

Hawaii 5-0 on DVD

I am thrilled to have Hawaii 5-0 on DVD.  I remembered it as my favorite TV crime drama ever, and so far, it is holding up very well.  A couple of other observations:

  • Whether you like the show or not, I think it is nearly indisputable that Hawaii 5-0 has the best intro of any TV series ever made.  Mission: Impossible is pretty good, but I never liked the practice of having scenes from the days show in the intro.
  • I am watching show 4 or so of the first season, and they have Ricardo Montalban playing a Japanese man.  Never has a Caucasian looked less like a Japanese man since Sean Connery when he was supposed to have been surgically altered to be Japanese in You Only Live Twice.  [check out Montalban's linked videography - in the last 60's and 70's he was on nearly every TV show I can remember]

Pirates Review

I loved the original Pirates of the Caribbean, and so I was excited to go see the sequel.  I won't write a long review, except to say that this movie is to the original what Star Wars Episode 3 was to the original Star Wars.  It seems to have forgotten what made the original a success, and focused instead on elaborate special effects and a confused plot.  The effects are amazing, and may be alone worth the price of one viewing, but the movie itself was only so-so. 

The plot wandered around aimlessly at times, and key elements, such as exactly how Jack got crosswise with Davy Jones in the first place, get a very very short exposition, which seem odd in a 2-1/2 hour movie.  This is the same mistake many action movie sequels make - the Indiana Jones movies come to mind in particular.  The sequels go for action action action continuously on the screen, forgetting that the original had long stretches of quiet periods that actually moved the plot and characters along.

Of all the plot elements, the sudden introduction of the ex-commodore Norrington seems the most forced.  There feels like there are one two many characters in the movie, with Sparrow, Will, the governor, the east India guys, Norrington, Davy Jones, etc. all having independent agendas.  This is fine for a taught character drama, but for a light action movie it is overly complex, and feels like Mission Impossible 2 where the writers tried to outdo the original in twists and turns and betrayals.  The introduction of Norrington does set up an interesting 3-way fight (kind of reminiscent of the awesome final scene in God, Bad, and the Ugly).  Like much of the film, the fight is kindof fun but falls short somehow.  And looking back on the movie, I can't figure out why the whole first part of the movie with the cannibals was even in there.  Basically, it did nothing to advance the plot.

The worst offense of the movie in my mind is that it underutilized Johny Depp.  Depp, whose performance really made the first movie, is OK but is not really allowed to be great.  The writers have him reprising his best bits from the first movie, rather than doing anything new.  It all feels a bit stale.

Oh, and by the way, does every single Hollywood movie have to find a way to make a large corporation the villain?  I mean, is it a writers guild requirement or something?  Even this movie set in the 18th century has to seek out the one and only large corporation in the world and use it as a villain.

Re-Discovering a Couple of My Favorite Writers

A while back, I went through my semi-annual cleaning and de-entropification of my bookshelves.  In doing so, I found several older books that I wanted to re-read.  In particular, books by John MacDonald and Alistair Maclean caught my eye.

As I have re-read these books, I have found that a number of my friends are not familiar with the authors, which is a shame.  Once an author dies and stops writing books, they kind of fall out of the public consciousness, unless you are Lawrence Sanders and have a post-humus "ghost" writer.

Now, I am not one to poopoo other people's choice of books.  In fact, I am very familiar with the look of disdain I get from time to time as I am reading Tom Clancy or Steven King or even Terry Pratchett from someone who is shocked I am not reading Sartre or some other Faulkner-esque book that is gravid with meaning.  However, I will tell you that not knowing these two authors is a lost joy, and an opportunity to have some real fun reading.

John MacDonald may not be known to most of the current generation, but he is to current writers.  More modern novelists than you can shake a stick at have grown up influenced by MacDonald's prose.  The place to begin is with his Travis McGee books, which are fabulously well written in addition to being fun to read and good mysteries to boot.  Any one will do, but if you have a choice, you might try the Long Lavender Look (all of the McGee books have a color in the title)., which is consistently rated as one of his best.  The Deep Blue Goodbye is the first of the series. I like Pale Grey for Guilt, because you see a little of MacDonald the Harvard MBA coming out, but other die hards don't like it as much.  MacDonald was very prolific, and has written a number of other great books you might know better from movies and TV, including Slam the Big Door, Cape Fear, and Condominium.

Alistair Maclean is a different kind of writer.  While his prose may not be as beautiful as MacDonald's, before there was Clancy or Crichton or even Ian Flemming there was Alistair Maclean.  Maclean is best described as a writer of great adventure stories.  My favorite is Where Eagles Dare, which actually is an awesome movie as well.  A close second is Ice Station Zebra.  Both of these share in common a lot of action and a ton of twists and turns - those who were confused by Mission Impossible need not apply.  Other great books include Guns of Navaronne, Breakheart Pass , Puppet on a Chain, HMS Ulysses, and Fear is the Key.  Breakheart Pass was particularly good, with a great story set in the old west, and Puppet on a Chain is perhaps his very best taut suspense novel, though it is about the only one on the list that was not made into a movie.