Archive for the Books Category

The Princess Bride

Posted in Books, Film, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2010 by randomintermissions

“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poisson. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”

That’s a hell of a tag line for any book or film. In actual fact the aforementioned quote spans both of the aforementioned genres.

... images courtesy of Google ...

The Novel

The Princess Bride by William Goldman is a masterpiece of adventure, action and romance, soppy enough for the ladies, but with enough comedy and action to suck in even the machoist of guys. To go into plot details would do nothing but spoil it, but suffices to say it’s a modern fairy tale of the beautiful Buttercup and her love; Westley the farm boy. When Westley departs to make his fortune, Buttercup vows never to love another. Then one sad morning, news is delivered that Westley’s ship has met with none other than that of the Dread Pirate Roberts, a pirate so ruthless that he never leaves survivors. Heartbroken, Buttercups charms soon draw the attention of Prince Humperdinek, who will do to any lengths to make her his wife, and thus the plot is afoot.

The plot alone is brilliant, but Goldman uses a device I have never seen before or since reading it. Goldman claims in his introduction (and frequent interruptions to the prose) that he is merely presenting us with an abbreviated version of one S. Morgenstern’s novel, “The Princess Bride”. Not being one for over-analyzing texts, I can quite honestly say I have no idea what Goldman was attempting to achieve by doing this, but it certainly makes interesting and comical reading.

But what of the film?

I am very much against film adaptations of novels, but ever rule has it exceptions:

  1. Jurassic Park.
  2. The Lord of the Rings.
  3. The Princess Bride.
  4. I am sure there are others… suggestions on a postcard please.

The Princess Bride is a special exception here, as the screenplay was actually written by Goldman himself and so this is a simplified version of his vision, but retaining the suspense, mystery, action, adventure and comedy; for once, nothing is lost in translation bar a few additional scenes which flesh out the setting in the novel.

The moral of the story (pun not intended at first, but then I kind of liked it, so decided it could stay): read the book, watch the film, enjoy.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , , on August 10, 2009 by randomintermissions

Well it has taken me long enough to get round to read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (seeing as it was published two years ago), so this is more of a retrospective than a review.

- The Final Curtain Call -

- The Final Curtain Call -

I have never been a hardcore Potter fan, but to date I have always found the books to be fairly readable and addictive in so far as page turning is involved. This is certainly true of book 7; I found myself ploughing through the 700 odd pages wanting to know the conclusion, and yet I was left feeling strangely dissatisfied.

I am not going to go into details about the plot etc. as I fear the wrath of anyone who has yet to find out who dies, who lives, who gets together and who saves the day [spoilers], but needless to say it is an action packed explosion of a novel which one would expect from a series that spans 12 years. However, the action sequences feel like they have been ripped by J.K. Rowling straight from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings” and I can already see one particular scene towards the end of the book being represented as a Helms Deep style sequence in the upcoming film adaptation.

Characterisation wise, nothing too negative can be said. Harry himself is considerably less annoying than in previous books (Order of the Phoenix being the prime example, where he does nothing but whine for the entire book). However, there is a feeling that certain characters are dragged back from previous books with little thought of context, and then randomly killed off, heroically, but pointlessly.

Now I know this review / retrospective will anger many Potter fans, especially those who have grown up with now legendary wizard. I would like to stress that I note Rowling’s achievements; she has created one of the most popular fictional works of our age and got many people reading again, it’s just this last effort feels lackluster.

- Crib Sheets -

- Crib Sheets -

If I really wanted to rant, I would comment upon the legal case about the poor chap who ran the Potter Encyclopedia (Lexicon) on-line for free (a source which J.K. herself has admitted to reviewing when she cannot remember details about a particular character, spell or scene), who then wanted to publish extracts, only to be taken to court over intellectual property by the woman herself, who then after winning the case announced that she would be putting together an encyclopedia herself… but like I say, I shall not be ranting about what a vindictive cow she is, as that would be counterpoint to my calm and collective nature (as if).

All in all I get the distinct impression that Rowling has given up caring now that she is richer than the Queen.

N.B.  This is a flimsy final point. I would stop caring if I was that rich, although I would like to think I would also drop my facade of being dedicated to it.

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6 out of a possible 10. Good, not great.