Monday, December 07, 2009

Some Excitement

I've recently gotten a bang out of these:

2012 in which John Cusack stars in the end of the world where stuff blows up real good. Just a popcorn movie, but one that has actual suspense to offer (as long as no one you know has given up some spoilers). My wife, a tough critic, liked it too. Date movie!

Dan Brown's The Lost Seal, in which Tom Hanks, I mean Robert Langdon is drafted to solve another mystery where signs and portents are hidden in paintings, pyramids and preposterously placed body parts.

Lovers of well-written fiction often claim they can't get past Brown's prose, and this tome will prove no different. Even I, who has a high tolerance for clumsy prose (I cut my teeth on sci-fi after all), rolled my eyes as one more character was rolled out who happed to be rich, good-looking, ethical to a fault, and beloved by all. Even the bad guys are uber-dudes.

And, of course, if you are a believer of any religion, you'll find plenty to annoy you. If you're a practicing Roman Catholic - someone who's beyond the show-up-and-kneel-stand-kneel-pray-go-out-to-breakfast stage - you'll again want to slash Brown's tires. However, in a small shocker, he reveals that Langdon is a practicing Catholic.

But, the man knows how to write breathless, labyrinth adventures with a satisfying twist ending. The dual in the dark (you'll know what I mean when you get there) was especially clever.

Finally saw the musical Wicked.

As constant readers know (assuming I have any anymore given my near absence from posting lately), I rilly rilly don't like most musicals, so they start out in the hole with me and have to claw to level ground before they impress me.

I liked it a lot.

I wasn't expecting the plot to move along so peppily, but damn, every 15 minutes you're completely somewhere else than you were before - kinda like Fight Club. The climaxes brought the requisite goosebumps that good theatre can.

As I suspected, the plot was unique to the play and borrowed only incidental details from the turgid (and somewhat wretched) book, thus it was a great story. And it fit nicely enough into the plot of the movie we've all seen, which was a brilliant choice. The novel takes the stance that the "Oz we know" was a rosey mythological retelling that left a lot of the gory details out. The play occurs "inside" the movie and doesn't betray it.

Both the movie and this play transcend their original material to be so much better that similarities feel incidental. I find that really compelling. I can't think of another example where the derivation outshines the source, and more than once.

Some would say the new "Star Trek" reboot is an example of that, and I would kinda agree. But a lot of the thrill is seeing how the new version of the character references the old. You have to have seen the original to get the full effect, which is not the case with The Wizard of Oz and Wicked.

See it if you can.

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