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devil duck

movies

This will be a rich couple of months for fantasy films: Order of the Phoenix in July, Stardust in August, The Dark is Rising in October, Beowulf in November, and The Golden Compass in December.

Order of the Phoenix, which everybody reading this has already seen, was well done, although as others have pointed out it's so fast-paced that it would be incomprehensible to any of the nine people on earth who haven't read the book, and there were (of course) a number of lines that I thought important that were either cut or transplanted to different characters, changing their meanings.

Stardust, which we saw tonight, is also quite well done. Robert DeNiro has way too much fun playing a pirate captain; Michelle Pfeiffer does as good a job as one would expect as a wicked witch; Clare Danes is (of course) radiant as the fallen star, and relative newcomer Charlie Cox is quite believable in the hero role of Tristan. The smaller role of "young Dunstan", Tristan's father, is played by the "yummy" (to quote my wife) Ben Barnes, who I gather is also playing Prince Caspian in the upcoming Prince Caspian and Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It's a straightforward fantasy romance with interesting, non-formulaic side characters. Now I have to finish re-reading the book.

I have low expectations for The Dark is Rising: although I enjoyed Susan Cooper's series of books thirty years ago, it looks from the previews to be fairly Hollywoodized (migrated from the UK to the US, among other things), and to have lost a lot of the Welsh-mythology atmosphere that made the books for me. I suspect that since this series is much less well-known than Harry Potter or Chronicles of Narnia, the studio felt they had to play heavily to an American teen audience. But I'll probably go see it anyway. And maybe re-read the book, although I fear the book may suffer from being read by an adult.

Beowulf, from the previews, appears to have little to do with the saga, other than starring a powerful warrior (Hrothgar is corrupt? Grendel's mother tries to seduce Beowulf?), but has a lot of big-name stars, and another Neil Gaiman writing credit, so maybe this will all make sense somehow.

The Golden Compass looks more promising: the visuals are close to my mental image of the world, the casting matches my mental image of the characters, and the screen adaptation (from the previews) seems to "get" the same things I thought were important about the books. This looks like a "must-see".
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I also saw Stardust on Sunday. Very enjoyable on all accounts. The actor who played Tristan reminded me of a young Brendan Fraser. Hmmmmmm......frock coats.....
Prince Caspian? Oh excellent!!!

Did you get a preview of the Spiderwick chronicles? http://www.spiderwick.com/ I have not read the books, but the preview looked promising.

The preview for Beowulf looked like the director/ writer/ producer picked up a copy of the saga, casually flipped through it and then tossed it in the garbage with the words "well we won't be needing that". Ugh!

I'm excited for the Golden Compass, even though I was unaware of this book until I saw the preview before HP's OotP.
Did you get a preview of the Spiderwick chronicles? http://www.spiderwick.com/ I have not read the books, but the preview looked promising.

Yes, we saw that preview. I had never heard of the books; shalmestere had heard of them but not read them. At first blush the preview made me think of Bridge to Terabithia, which we saw on DVD two weeks ago while sewing for Pennsic, but I think this one spends more of its time in Faerie and less in Mundania.

I'm excited for the Golden Compass, even though I was unaware of this book until I saw the preview before HP's OotP.

Superb series of books. Pullman really has an eye for mythic imagery. All three books are dark and depressing, with little candle-flames of hope and human decency sprinkled here and there throughout the abyss. None of the characters are particularly likable or admirable, but they're utterly human (if somewhat magnified) and believable, and by the heartbreaking end of the third book you really care about them. I'll need to re-read them now....