Wednesday, November 25, 2015

New Archives Page

Hello all,

We have a new Archives Page! Read on to find out more!
Or, instead of reading all the details, stop by and check it out!

Movie Review: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit

Title: Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Author: Starring Chris Pine and Keira Knightley
Release Date: 2014
Genre: action, drama, romance, war, thriller
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: PG-13
Age Group: 14+

After a horrific accident in a helicopter, Jack Ryan works for the CIA undercover. He has possibly one of the most boring jobs out there: watching numbers on a screen. But one day those numbers show something frightening, and Ryan reports to his boss. Who promptly tells him to go to Moscow and fix the problem.
Now, Ryan's not supposed to be an agent in the field, but he's the only one who really knows what the data says or what he's looking for. Plus, this mission should really just involve looking at a few accounts and coming home.
Yeah, no. That never happens in these kinds of movies. And while we're at it, let's throw in a girlfriend who thinks Ryan is cheating on her because he's suddenly keeping things from her, and a surprise trip by this girlfriend to join Ryan in Moscow.
Things can't get much worse, can they?
Oh yes, they can.

Word of Warning
  • The helicopter is hit by what looks to be an RPG. This seriously injures Ryan and those inside, and we see Ryan on a stretcher, skin singed, two broken vertebra and in serious pain.
  • An unmarried couple living together and presumably having sex. A few kisses, more desperate (since people are almost dying) than passionate.
  • A man pretends to be drunk and insults his fiance. This might not merit being mentioned, but it was just really sad and horrible to see how he treated her verbally.
  • People die. A lot. A man drowns, others are shot, and Ryan barely escapes with his life more than once. There is mention of torture (waterboarding and others), specifically that of inserting a lightbulb into a young woman's mouth with the intention of breaking said bulb while it is in her mouth. One man likes to kill people with a metal sheers (like the one you use to sheer sheep). While silent and not very gory, there's something very disturbing about this.
  • Guns. Jumping off crazy heights. Car chases. Car crashes. A bomb. Basically, all that you would expect from this genre.
  • Language? I don't remember it being a big deal, but I know there was some in the movie.
  • The end of the movie is the death of a main character. It is silent, with classical music playing in the background, and not dramatic, but heartbreaking.

My Thoughts
Well, that was good. I love a good action movie, far more than I like other genres, and on a Sunday afternoon this one did not disappoint. I don't think I'd watch it again, but action movies in general are not very enjoyable to re-watch. I also don't regret watching it. It was relatively clean and not very gory, intelligent in its premise, but with enough action to do what every good action movie does: make you think the movie is over a good hour before it is. Because you're so sure that's the climax, and then it's not, so that must be it, but that's not it either and so on.
Basically, it was good. I appreciated that the language wasn't a big issue and that, compared to other movies in this genre, the content wasn't too bad.
I'm rambling, and I know that. That's because I liked the movie, but it doesn't stand out enough for me to say, "This is the most amazing movie I've watched!" nor does to say "I really regret wasting my time on this."
So there you have it. It was good. It wasn't the best, or the worst. It just fell in a nice place somewhere in the midle.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: Johnny Tremain

Title: Johnny Tremain
Author: Ester Forbes
Release Date: 1943
Genre: adventure, war, revolutionary war, romance, coming of age, historical fiction
My Rating: *****
Official Rating: children's fiction
Age Group: 10+
Awards: Newbery Award

Young Johnny Tremain has it all. He's the star silversmith apprentice at a successful shop in the New World. He's set to inherit the practice, and marry the silversmith's pretty daughter, in a few years' time. And the thing is, he's good at what he does and he loves it. Sure, he's an orphan and still has no idea who his father was, but he did love his mother very dearly before she passed on. And while he still misses her, he's made a great life for himself.
Until he slips. Literally, he slips. Working on a Sunday to get a very important job done, Johnny slips and burns his hand in molten silver. When the bandage comes off, it is discovered that his thumb has grown attached to his palm. He's not useful as a silversmith anymore.
Kicked out on the streets while tensions rise between the colonists and the British, Johnny must find a way to survive.

Word of Warning
  • Violence and death. This being a young man's experience with the Revolutionary War, there is violence even though the book is considered children's fiction. None if is particularly graphic, but people do get hurt and die.
  • Crime is sometimes glorified. For those who know the history of the Revolutionary War, the rebels who are so often praised acted very much like common criminals at times, stealing, destroying property, and hurting people. Granted, this particular book only hints at these deeds, but it should be noted that our "heroes" do commit criminal acts.
  • Guns. A war is fought with guns, and characters get guns and they use them and people die.
  • A character who could be considered disabled is shamed and treated poorly. However wrong this is, it was the reality of the time and this is historical fiction.
  • Along those lines, this story is also told from a very one-sided point of view: a young white male colonist. This could potentially constrain the story to missing other important things. But on the other hand, a point of view does need to be taken or the author won't be able to get anything done.
  • Our good old Johnny Tremain can be a bit of a bully, particularly in the beginning of the book. This should not be taken lightly. The hero is a bully. Once he is on the other side of things, he does change some of his ways.
My Thoughts
Honestly, this is one of my childhood favorites. It's one of those books you read once every two years or so just to remember how great it was. It's the book you buy whenever you see it on sale because you know some young person in your life could use this great adventure (or am I the only one who rescues books from the sales shelf and rehomes them?).
And all the objections up there? This might sound awful, but they don't really matter. I mean yes, they are bad things, and yes, we need to consider the youth we are handing this book to because not everyone should read this. But this is historical fiction, and these problems are treated as such. They are a representation of what life was like, not what it ought to be like. Because that's what fiction in general does: it represents a truth the writers sees in the world, not necessarily the way the world should be. That's the reader's job to figure out based on a well-formed conscience, faith, and the reality the writer is pointing out.