Thursday, December 31, 2009

Review: New Moon (2009)

New Moon (2009) is the sequel to the first film, Twilight, based upon the very popular vampire-teen novel series by Stephanie Meyer. This review will reveal major spoilers about the movie’s plot. I saw this film in movie theatres in November 2009. I have finally come around to publish my thoughts.

In the beginning, Bella Swan dreams where she meets Edward Cullen, her vampire boyfriend, in the woods and perceives herself in the mirror as an old woman. Edward is immortal whereas she is human. Bella is finally 18 – officially an adult, but she has a growing distaste with growing older now that she realizes she’s technically older than Edward (he changed at age 17). Nevertheless, the Cullen family throws a birthday party for her. When she cuts her finger to unwrap a gift, Jasper Cullen becomes overwhelmed by the blood scent and attacks her. Edward realizes his family’s supernatural nature poses a threat to Bella’s life so he abruptly ends their romantic relationship. The Cullen family leaves Forks, Washington permanently, and Bella sadly does not know their new destination.

His departure leaves Bella psychologically heartbroken and suicidal for months. She would lock herself in her room in despair hoping that Edward would return someday. However, when her father, Charlie, insists that he wants her to live with her mother in Florida, she changed her behavior and resumed hanging out with her school friends. Her experiences and activities remind her of Edward who, as an apparition, warns her to stay away from danger. She seeks companionship with Jacob Black, who eases her pain and loss over Edward. When Jacob disappears for weeks and Bella searches for him, she discovers that he has joined a werewolf pack, a natural enemy of vampires. Worse, another former enemy has returned to kill Bella to avenge the murder of her mate. Jacob must hunt with the pack to patrol the area. Alone and sad, Bella continues to engage in risky behaviors to ease her sorrow.

When Bella finally discovers Edwards’ whereabouts, she races to Italy with Alice to stop Edward from committing suicide in the sunlight. In a series of miscommunication, Edwards believes Bella has died and feels he has no purpose in living anymore. Bella stops Edward just in time, but the Volturi, a powerful vampire coven, learns about Bella and believes she knows too much about their ways. She has two choices: death or become a vampire herself. Alice saves Edward and Bella with a premonition that Bella will transform in the near future. Back in Forks, Edward apologizes to Bella about his quick departure; he only left to protect her. The Cullens decide either Alice will change Bella after graduation or Edward will change her if she decides to marry him. Meanwhile, Jacob warns Edward about their treaty – the vampires and werewolves will not attack each other as long as the vampires do not bite a human.

The movie illustrated a few things: 1) growing tension between the Cullen family and werewolves, 2) Bella's fate as a vampire, and 3) preview of the Volturi. Jacob saw the most plot development as he transitions from an adolescent to a mature werewolf. Edward plays a more minor role (near the beginning and ending), so the film focuses more on the relationship between Bella and Jacob. There was not much action in this film, so it disappointed me. This was definitely made for the book fans who know what to expect (I have never read the books). I thought the film could had provided more drama and suspense. Some scenes seemed too rushed and unoriginal. Bella was too depressed and emotional for my taste. I wanted to tell her, "Don't do that because it's stupid!" However, I have to say the actress improved her acting; she played the part of a dysfunctional teenager very well. Victoria is also still on the loose, but I hope the next film will see her demise. I still recommend this film (3.5 out of 5 stars), but I think Twilight was the better movie.



Stay tuned for more updates about the third film (2010) in the Twilight Saga, Eclipse.

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Review: Cold Streets (Vampire Files #10)

“Bullets will fly. Blood will flow. And it will become clear that the simple life of a club owner is not in the cards for a vampire with a thirst for justice.”

Cold Streets, by P.N. Elrod, is the tenth book in the Vampire Files series. It is January 1938, winter Chicago. Six months have passed since his disturbing encounter with the mob and the discovery of a murdered woman. Multiple events have delayed the grand opening of his new nightclub, Lady Crymsyn. He enjoys his life as a vampire. He’s one of the good guys with a heart for justice -— and blood. He aids his best friend and colleague, Charles Escott, British private agent, in investigating and solving difficult cases.

Jack returns to his club where we meet reoccurring characters: Bobbi Smythe, his girlfriend who has aspirations for Hollywood; Gordy Weems, major Chicago mob boss, owner of the Nightcrawler Club and one of Jack’s best friends; Adelle Taylor, multi-talented actress and now performer at Lady Crymsyn; and Myrna, from the previous novel, the club resident ghost, who warns Jack of trouble. Now, he meets two new people, who want to work at his place: Faustine Petrova, Russian ballerina dancer, and Roland Lambert, her American partner, from war-intensifying Europe. However, New York mob boss, Hog Bistrow, drunk and boorish, has some dangerous business to settle with Gordy. Why at the Lady Crymsyn? Growing tensions seem to be looming in the air.

The man behind the kidnapping of Sarah Gladwell has Jack fearing for his (undead) life. How can Dugan resist his hypnosis? Is the man insane or not even human? Dugan knows Jack’s supernatural abilities, and Fleming will do anything to prevent this guy from exposing the truth. If things can’t get any worse, Hog’s crew guns down mob boss, Gordy, and Jack must race against the clock to save his best friend. It seems that Jack not only has his club to run but also has one of the largest gang territories in Chicago under his guidance. From newspaper journalist, private detective, jazzy club owner and now mob boss? Let’s just hope Jack survives this unprecedented rapid change in his already busy (supernatural)lifestyle.

Cold Streets is the tenth installment to the Vampire Files series by P.N. Elrod. For newcomers, Jack Fleming became a vampire in 1936 in an unfortunate, merciless murder. How did he become a vampire? Even he doesn’t know but he has avenged his death. Since the first books—Bloodlist, Lifeblood and Bloodcircle—(I recommend reading these books and my reviews at the bottom of the page when possible), he has helped Charles Escott in several murder cases and later found enough cash to start his own business with the help of his closest friends. Along the series, Fleming discovers secrets unveiled to him in startling and upsetting ways. Cold Secrets continues the vivid imagery and action-packed excitement present in most Vampire Files novels.

Elrod includes historical tidbits and popular culture in this book to entertain and inform the readers about the 1930s. Fleming mentions Charles Lindbergh, the Lusitania ship (know your WWII history???), J. Edgar Hoover, and other insightful references to the time. Bobbi’s dress, with cartoon characters featuring Snow White, reminds the reader that ‘Snow White’ was one of the first Disney films in the 1930s. The most famous historical celebrity from this time mentioned is Al Capone of the 1920s and Prohibition era. He had, according to many mobs, left a legacy in Chicago with his bootlegging and how mobs were ran and operated. This story takes place just around World War Two, so Elrod is including more international affairs in her novels. I just wished Elrod didn't include so many new characters...you wonder if they're really important to digest.

While the character development is excellent throughout the novel, I’ve noticed how more sarcastic and unsure Jack Fleming has become. Maybe that was the accent/talk of his time (he can recognize Chicago and New York accents in a second. What is exactly a Chicago accent??). He is 37 years old in human years, although as a vampire, he looks much younger in his age. He almost has an episode with Bobbi by draining the life out of her. This reminded me of the fifth book, Fire in the Blood, when he almost kills a woman by taking too much blood. Near the end, the audience will witness Fleming’s greatest fear when his own life and those around him are in jeopardy. Elrod makes sure to make references from previous novels to create a continuous, upbeat narrative.

I have not read a novel so bloody, brutal and disturbing since the seventh novel, A Chill in the Blood. You see a different side of Jack--almost like a monster--in this story. The idea that a man knows Jack’s supernatural secret leaves more questions than answers: what will happen to Dugan? Will he try to kill Jack again? The ending is somewhat incomplete (I know, I had to keep re-reading paragraphs for I was in a state of shock. I didn't like the ending.) but leaves more excitement for the next book sequel in the Vampire files Series. Just like the character, Angela Paco, encompassed two books (Blood in the Water, A Chill in the Blood), I bet you that Dugan will be in the next book, but only this time, we hope Fleming will stay alive and complete his unfinished business.

Stay tuned for my next review on the eleventh novel in the Vampire Files series, Song in the Dark.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

'Supernatural,' 'Legend of the Seeker' Resume January 2010

The fifth season of Supernatural resumes Thursday, January 14, 2010.

The second season of Legend of the Seeker resumes Saturday, January 9, 2010.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Review: Le Chevalier D'Eon (2006-2007)


Le Chevalier D'Eon (2006-2007) is a Japanese historical anime that takes place in 18th century France. It is a supernatural twist to the tumultous events that lead up to the French Revolution. It contains scenes of blood, gore, and murder so it is not suitable for young audiences. It contains 24 episodes.

It is Paris (1742), and King Louis XV still ruled the kingdom. A casket floats along the Seine River with the word "Psalms" written in blood and contains a deceased woman's body. Her name was Lia de Beaumont, a loyal servant to the king. Her only twin brother, D'eon, loyal knight and spy for the king, determines to discover the truth behind her sudden and violent death. According to the Catholic Church, her soul cannot enter heaven and will continue to wander the earth unless she seeks vengeance.

Throughout his journey, D'Eon searches for her murderer. However, there are some strange movements throughout Europe. Three companions accompny him to help with his investigiation, including the disappearance of a number of French women. They encounter revolutionaries, supernatural forces (magic, warlocks, corpses), and betrayal. D'Eon never imagined that he would become the vessel for Lia's angry and restless soul.

This anime is loosely based upon the real French cross-dresser, Chevalier d'Eon, who was a French diplomat, spy, soldier and Freemason who lived the first half of his life as a man and the second half as a woman. He referred to himself as Lady Lia de Beaumont, and the anime uses actual historical events to develop the plot.

Overall, this is one of my favorite historical animations of all time. The original soundtrack is beautiful (enchanting classical instrumentals that takes you back into time), and the storyline is breathtaking and adventurous. The soul of Lia wants revenge, and she is a great fighter. I like how the author took a supernatural twist with this tense period. Eventually, the proletariat rebelled against the monarchy and aristocracy. I highly recommend this anime. It is now available in English dub version.


Trailer


Owari no Mata Kotoba Ariki (one of my favorite songs on the album!)


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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Music: Blackmore's Night - Ghost of a Rose

I am officially done with school finals, and can now focus on this blog! I have so many things to post in the next few days. Let me introduce you to one of my favorite songs:

Blackmore's Night is a Renaissance-inspired folk rock band led by Ritchie Blackmore (electric and acoustic guitar) and his wife, Candice Night (lyricist and lead vocals). Candice is multi-talented and has a beautiful voice. The band produces folk and Neo-Medieval music. They are very popular in Europe. It reminds me of the Middle Ages in Europe and has a lighthearted, adventurous melody. This song is from their album, Ghost of a Rose (2003). I highly recommend their music. Enjoy!




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Saturday, December 12, 2009

Video: "Once Upon a December" by Deana Carter

This is one of my favorite songs, "Once Upon a December", by Deana Carter. The song is from the Dreamsworks animation film album, Anastasia. It reminds me of a magical Europe. Winter has arrived, and there is snow on the ground. I thought this was the right time to show this video. I also posted the lyrics to this classic song. Enjoy!




Dancing bears,
Painted wings,
Things I almost remember,
And a song someone sings
Once upon a December.

Someone holds me safe and warm.
Horses prance through a silver storm.
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory...

(Instrumental interlude)

Someone holds me safe and warm.
Horses prance through a silver storm.
Figures dancing gracefully
Across my memory...

Far away, long ago,
Glowing dim as an ember,
Things my heart
Used to know,
Things it yearns to remember...

And a song
Someone sings
Once upon a December

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