Friday, May 29, 2015

New: Alphabetized Book and Movie Reviews

For ease of browsing, I have arranged all of my book and movie reviews in alphabetical order.

Movies are, of course, listed by title.

Books are listed under the author's last name.

Click on the Book Reviews or Movie Reviews page to see if there's a review you're interested in.


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Movie Review: The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Story: As the evil Prince John plots to take over his brother’s throne, nobleman Sir Robin of Locksley is one of the few to stand up to the scheme. Soon Robin is forced to become Robin Hood, an outlaw hiding out in Sherwood Forest with a band of merry men, protecting the poor from Prince John’s oppression and awaiting the day when the good King Richard will return.

My Thoughts: Errol Flynn was the king of old-fashioned adventure movies, and this film shows why. He set a standard in his portrayal of Robin Hood that I have never seen equaled. The other characters, from Prince John to Maid Marian to Friar Tuck, are brought vividly to life as well. The settings in forest and castle are all colorful and believable.

Although the story could have used a bit more depth and benefited from being longer, it’s still exciting, just with less emotional force than it could have had. Most of the action scenes, like the film as a whole, have aged well, making this a fun adventure film for all ages, recalling a lost time when Hollywood made far more movies for the whole family.

Content Overview: Mild violence. Some passionate kissing. Suitable for most viewers.

You might also be interested in my review of Disney's animated Robin Hood.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood #1) by Anne Elisabeth Stengl

The Story: In a wondrous fantasy kingdom, a princess dreams of a handsome, charming suitor who will come to sweep her off her feet. Instead, after her first suitor seems quite boring and her second suitor is just after her money, she realizes that her fairy tale romance may not turn out like she hoped. As nightmares start to haunt her and dark forces encircle her, who she gives her heart to will turn out to be a far more serious choice than she ever imagined.

My Thoughts: While this might sound like a typical princess fairy tale, it is actually quite different. Few princess fairy tales are this dark and complex, or have such a strong moral message. A large cast of colorful characters helps bring the story of life, as do a variety of original fantastical touches, such as the way the author weaves many exotic fairy elements into the story.

The writing often gives the impression of looking at a painting instead of words, with skillfully-placed details scattered about on almost every page. The only serious flaw is that the plot seems to lose its way after awhile, and while the beautiful prose mostly covers up this problem, the plot issues grow more noticeable toward the story’s end. Since the book has so many enchanting traits, however, I still enjoyed it a lot, and its strengths make it worth reading.

Content Overview: Mild violence. Some intense and scary scenes.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Movie Review: Red Eye

The Story: A hotel manager ends up next to a seemingly nice man on a flight, but soon the man reveals he’s working for terrorists who want to assassinate a homeland security official. The official will be staying at the woman’s hotel, and if she doesn’t cooperate in the assassination, her father will be killed. Can she find a way to save both her father and the official?

My Thoughts: This film has one glaring problem that may make some viewers find it unbelievable: A significant part of the story takes place on a crowded plane, and while it is not impossible that no one would notice the events that are unfolding, it seems unlikely. A few tweaks might have made this aspect easier to swallow.

If you can get past that detail, however, it’s otherwise an excellent thriller, with an especially likable heroine pitted against an especially nasty villain, sending them on a suspenseful battle of wits and ultimately weapons. Red Eye doesn’t quite achieve greatness, but it’s good enough that thriller fans who can swallow the premise are likely to have fun watching it.

Content Overview: Occasional mild language and one instance of harsher language. A bit of mild innuendo. Brief but intense violence.