TV Show Review: Highlander, Season 1

Series: Highlander Season 1 (1992-1993)
Length: 22 episodes (about 45 minutes each)
Lead Actors: Adrian Paul (Duncan MacLeod), Alexandra Vandernoot (Tessa Noël), Stan Kirsch (Richie Ryan)
Content Advisory: Swashbuckling violence, not much blood. Occasional sex scenes that are about the most that’s acceptable at a PG-13 level, but no explicit nudity. Occasional minor swearing.
Spoiler-free Synopsis: The adventures of Duncan MacLeod, a modern-day Immortal of Scottish heritage, as he tries to maintain a peaceful life with his mortal lover Tessa Noël and mentor the orphaned teenager Richie Ryan. All while avoiding or defeating other evil Immortals who seek to take his head, gain the power of the Quickening, and abuse unwitting humanity. Part urban fantasy swashbuckler, part crime drama, part love story.
Reason for Beginning Season: Recommended by a friend.
Reason for Finishing Season: It’s fun, occasionally thought-provoking, and shows a lot of promise. Continue reading “TV Show Review: Highlander, Season 1”

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TV Show Review: “Tales from the Neverending Story” – Episode 1

Copying "The Lord of the Rings" much?

Series Title: Tales from the Neverending Story
Episode: 1.1 “Heart of Stone” (2001)
Director: Giles Walker
Lead Actors: Mark Rendall (as Bastian Balthazar Bux), John Dunne-Hill (Coreander), Noël Burton (Michael Bux)
Length: 44 minutes
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Wherein Bastian Balthazar Bux, a young boy who loves books, experiences the tragic death of his mother and an increasingly awkward relationship with his father. Meanwhile, he finds the magical book The Neverending Story, the story of which begins to seem suspiciously similar to a bizarre dream he had.
Reason for Beginning: I saw it available free on On-Demand, and since I’m a fan of both Michael Ende’s novel The Neverending Story and the 1984 film of the same name, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Also, I’d never heard of this adaptation before, and was morbidly curious as to what a low-budget Hallmark TV adaptation of the inspired fantasy epic would look like.
Reason for Finishing: Gaahhhh! The horror! Can’t take my eyes off the unfolding catastrophe! Continue reading “TV Show Review: “Tales from the Neverending Story” – Episode 1″

Book Review: “Airman” by Eoin Colfer

CONOR BROEKHART WAS BORN TO FLY.

Title: Airman
Author: Eoin “It’s Pronounced Owen!” Colfer
Format: Novel
Pages: 412
Published: 2009
Spoiler-free Synopsis: “In an 1890s where the small Saltee Islands are a sovereign nation off the Irish coast, young Conor Broekhart spends his days studying flight and fencing with his tutor and exploring the castle with the king’s daughter, Princess Isabella. But his idyllic life changes forever the day he discovers a deadly conspiracy against the king. When Conor tries to intervene, he is framed as a traitor and thrown into jail on the prison island of Little Saltee. He passes the desperate, solitary months by scratching drawings of flying machines on the prison walls, until the day comes when he must find the courage to trust his revolutionary designs and take to the skies.” (paraphrased by me from the blurb on the back cover)
Reason for Beginning: Recommended by a trusted friend, and the alternate history + flying machines sounded really cool. Hoped it would be steampunk, but it isn’t.
Reason for Finishing: Fun! Delirious fast-paced high-adventure! Kings! Princesses! Castles! Betrayals! Prisons! Science! Sword-fights! Flying Machines! Escapes! Sharpshooters! Secret towers! Secret codes! Blind violinist-spies! True love! Beef Stew! (uh, err, okay, so that last one’s not really important. But it is there!) Continue reading “Book Review: “Airman” by Eoin Colfer”

Book Review: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan

Title: The Pilgrim’s Progress
Author: John Bunyan
Format: Novel; Christian allegory
Pages: 182
First Published: 1678, in London
Version Reviewed: THE annotated PILGRIM’S PROGRESS with notes by Warren W. Wiersbe, published in 1980
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Christian, a citizen of the City of Destruction, is desperate to get rid of the mysterious Burden which is on his back and which will not leave him no matter what he does. Following the advice of a man named Evangelist, he begins a journey to the Celestial City. On the way he meets many characters and monsters, some as foes, some as friends, and still more as fellow travelers on the Way. Everyone is seeking something different and deals with the obstacles in different ways.
Reason for Beginning: One of the most important books in the English language and in Christianity. Since I love English literature and am a Christian, I wanted to read this. Continue reading “Book Review: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” by John Bunyan”

John Bunyan on Christian Fantasy

In his introduction to The Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan preemptively defends himself against those who might worry that the trappings of fantasy will diminish the power of biblical truths:

“I find that men (as high as trees) will write
Dialogue-wise; yet no man doth them slight
For writing so: indeed, if they abuse
Truth, cursed be they, and the craft they use
To that intent; but yet let truth be free
To make her sallies upon thee and me,
Which way it pleases God; for who knows how,
Better than he that taught us first to plough,
To guide our mind and pens for his design?
And he makes base things usher in divine.”

In a way that stanza is a defense of Christian fiction itself. He’s saying that the best writers throughout history have often written fiction, and that if someone writes a story that is morally bad, then God will hold them accountable for their intent, but that’s no reason to prevent the good stuff from being written. If a Christian writer writes for God’s glory, God will certainly guide his pen so that, even amidst revisions and diversions and mistakes and perhaps sheer lack of talent, His purpose will be met. Our works cannot be perfect, but by God’s grace they can be good. Isn’t it foolish, says Bunyan, to suggest that God is limited by the imaginations He gives us? He can “make base things usher in divine.”

Graphic Novel Review: Mouse Guard Fall 1152

Huzzah, my last review of 2010! Happy New Year to all of you!

Nice cover. But what

Title: Mouse Guard: Fall 1152
Author: David Petersen. He’s also the artist.
Format: Graphic Novel
Length: 192 pages
Published: May 2007
Spoiler-free Synopsis: “In the world of Mouse Guard, mice struggle to live safely and prosper amongst harsh conditions and a host of predators. Thus the Mouse Guard was formed: more than just soldiers that fight off intruders, they are guides for common mice looking to journey without confrontation from one hidden village to another…Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam, three such Guardsmice, are dispatched to find a missing merchant mouse that never arrived at his destination. Their search for the missing mouse reveals much more than they expect, as they stumble across a traitor in the Guard’s own ranks.” (from the official website)
Reason for Beginning: I’m a fan of the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, and this looks clearly inspired by it. Plus it’s easy to read graphic novels on my lunch breaks at work.
Reason for Finishing: It’s a quick read and the artwork is very good, very textured. Continue reading “Graphic Novel Review: Mouse Guard Fall 1152”

Movie Review: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

It really is.

Title: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)
Director: Frank Capra
Actors: James Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore
Score Composer: Dmitri Tiomkin! (a generally awesome composer, being appropriately restrained here, I think)
Length: 130 minutes
Rating (US): Un-rated, since it was before the MPAA system. No objectionable content. Spoiler-free Synopsis: George Bailey, a man who has spent his whole life sacrificing his dreams for others, to seemingly little good effect, is driven to suicidal depression and wishes he had never been born. An angel grants him his wish with the intent of proving to him how valuable his life has been. (hence it qualifies as fantasy. Sorry Clarence.)
Reason for Beginning: Watch it every year, it’s a Christmas tradition!
Reason for Finishing: Great, great movie.
Movie Re-watchability: One of the highest I know. It never grows old, never ceases to move me emotionally. It’s a great movie for cheering you up, because it fully acknowledges the struggles and depression that real people go through in their day-to-day lives, and yet still finds the goodness and warmth in other people that we can be grateful for. Continue reading “Movie Review: It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)”