The Historian is Elizabeth Kostova’s first published novel, and at 642 pages it was very impressive. She held my attention throughout the entire book. I hated putting it down. Kostova has a beautiful writing style and makes the history of “Vlad the Impaler” very interesting. Most of the story is told through letters and jumps around quite a bit, but it is very easy to follow.
The book begins when a teenage girl comes across an ancient book and containing some mysterious letters in her father’s library. The book is blank, save for the center pages which contain a woodcut rendering of a dragon with the word “Drakulya.” Her father then proceeds to explain his personal search for Dracula and the truth behind the historical figure.
The vast references to the history of the 1400’s in the surrounding eastern European countries, makes this book seem more like a work of non-fiction. But the supernatural qualities add an eerie, suspenseful dimension to this work of art. The only complaint I have is that the ending seemed somewhat anti-climatic. But on a whole, this was a great piece of literature. I highly recommend it to those who love historical fiction or just a good vampire tale.
I can’t believe I had never seen an episode till last Saturday’s marathon. I taped them all and was able to watch season 1 and 2 this weekend. Let’s just say, I’ll have my VCR set to record the new season starting this Sunday even if I’m there to watch it. Unfortunately, I never watch the USA network so I had never caught this show. I’d seen many reviews about it in SciFi magazines, but just never made an effort to figure out when it came on. So I’m really glad I caught a commercial saying there was a marathon of every episode over the holiday weekend.
I like alien abduction stories, but the premise seemed a lot like Spielberg’s “Taken,” which I knew couldn’t compete. But they put some wonderful twists in their story which slowly is unraveling like a great mystery. Throughout the past 60 years, people have been abducted, and all 4400 are returned at the same time at Highland Beach in Washington. The abductees remember nothing, but over time some start developing strange powers like precognition, healing, and reading minds. Through the first two seasons, we find out that the abductors claim to be from the future, and sent these 4400 back to save the world from a disaster. And the 4400 each have a purpose, some having larger roles than others.
There is, obviously, a large cast. There’s no way they can run out of stories with 4400 people. The character development of the regular cast (of at least 8 returning characters) has been well thought out. I’ve put brief character descriptions below.
I can’t wait to see where the 3rd season takes us. I hope they can get a large enough following to put this show on another network, for at least reruns. I’d hate to see this show get cancelled before it’s time like Roswell. They definitely need better promotion and marketing. The 4400 could easily become a huge hit with a cult following like many other SciFi shows.
If you missed the marathon this past weekend, season 1 is already out on DVD. Plus, before each episode they do a short recap of whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s been happening. So you can easily catch up on what’s been going on.
Cast Bios of the 4400:
Tom Baldwin ( Joel Gretsch ) – Tom works for Homeland Security with his partner, Diana Skouris. He has a personal involvement with the 4400 since his nephew, Shawn, is one of them. His son, Kyle, was saved by Shawn from abduction, but instead has been in a coma for the 3 years following (which ultimately killed his marriage). Tom continues to try to unravel the mystery of the 4400, as well as being called to help prevent the forewarned disaster along with the 4400.
Diana Skouris ( Jaqueline McKenzie ) – Diana is Tom’s partner with homeland security. Besides working to figure out and help the 4400, she recently adopted one of them named Maia.
Maia Rutledge ( Conchita Campbell ) – Maia was the first of the 4400 to be abducted back in 1946. Maia just wants to live a normal life of a child, but she has an extremely special gift, precognition. She has told her adoptive mother that she no longer has been seeing the future. But Diana recently found Maia’s journal that lists all her recent visions.
Kyle Baldwin ( Chad Faust ) – Kyle should have been one of the 4400, but his cousin Shawn pushed him out of the way just in time. Kyle still ended up in an unexplained coma for 3 years. Shawn used his healing power on Kyle to wake him up. But when he awoke, he was’t the same person. The person who had control of his body claimed to be from the future, and warned Tom that the 4400 were sent back to divert a future disaster. Now, in control of his own body, with no knowledge of what had happened to him, Kyle is trying to get on with his life.
Shawn Farrell ( Patrick Flueger ) – Shawn disappeared in 2001, saving his cousin Kyle from abduction. When he returned, he found that he had the power to manipulate life-force, more specifically to heal people. After an accident where he almost killed his brother, Shawn ran away to a fellow 4400 and billionaire, Jordan Collier. Currently, Shawn works for Collier at the 4400 Center using his healing ability to not only save people, but bring in money for the Center.
Jordan Collier ( Billy Campbell ) – Jordan disappeared in 2002. He easily picked up his life where he left off, continuing his billionaire status, manipulating others to do his will. He founded the 4400 Center, a place not only for fellow returnees, but ordinary people looking to “unlock” the 4400 within themselves. Jordan has not shown any signs of special abilities yet.
Richard Tyler ( Mahershalhashbaz Ali ) – Richard disappeared in 1951, a pilot during the Korean War. He left behind a fiance who turns out to be the grandmother of Lily, a woman who looks remarkably like his former love. He soon finds himself falling in love with Lily, and as a new father to their child who was conceived supposedly while they were abducted. Richard has not shown any signs of special abilities yet.
Lily Moore-Tyler ( Laura Allen ) – Lily disappeared in 1993, and returned to find that her husband had remarried and her daughter believing that her new mother is her real mother. Her former husband has put a restraining order out on Lily so she can’t even see her own daughter. After meeting Richard Tyler in quarantine, she met up with him again and ended up falling in love. Not long after returning, Lily found out that she was pregnant, impregnated while she was abducted and not knowing for sure whom the father is. After getting married to Kyle, she gave birth to Isabelle, a beautiful and gifted baby. Isabelle’s powers are not completely known, but she can control people’s minds and has some level of telekinesis at the very least. Lily has not shown any signs of special abilities, outside of being able to communicate with her 6-month-old baby.
The Fantastic Four wasÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ wellÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ fantastic! It was everything the comic is, but brought to life. Casting was exceptional. They couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have found anyone who looked and acted more like Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic than Ioan Gruffudd. Reed is the distracted, quiet genius who finds himself the reluctant leader of the Fantastic Four. Michael Chiklis played the more difficult role of Ben Grimm/The Thing, who turned into a rock-man, the only one of the four who canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t turn his power on and off. I had reservations about Jessica Alba playing Susan Storm/Invisible Woman; but I have to say she did a great job as well. Susan not only plays the mothering, nurturing-role as the only female of the group, and older sister of Johnny, but she also holds her own as a brilliant scientist and powerful hero. Of the four though, I think that Chris Evans actually became Johnny Storm/The Human Torch, and did the best job of bringing his character to life. Johnny is the playboy, thrill-seeker who loves the media attention, and loves torturing Grimm in endless pranks and jokes. Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom is played by Julian McMahon, who also does a great job as the FourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s benefactor-turned-villain.
The beginning of the movie seems a bit rushed. There are no slow parts in this movie. But I see where they needed to hurry with the events leading to the accident that changes them, just to get on with the rest of the story. Plus, with 4 people in leading roles, instead of 1 or 2, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s harder to get into each characterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s story. But with sequels already planned, they have plenty of time for more character development. This movie is mainly about how the Four get their powers, how they deal with them, and the beginning of the first super hero family.
DonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t expect the Fantastic Four movie to be like Batman Begins. The mood is completely different. Marvel takes a different approach with their comic book characters. Where DC characters, like Batman, tend to have darker stories and are more dramatic and mythological; Marvel is usually more comedic and light-hearted. The Fantastic Four is probably the funniest comic book movie ever made, without getting too cheesy. Plus itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s family aspect makes it unique as well.
The special effects for this movie were a huge challenge. Chiklis had to don a bulky rubber suit, that looked remarkably realistic as orange rock. Mr. FantasticÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s stretching was a concern of mine. I hoped it wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t look too campy or cheesy. That, too, was well met. I was really impressed with all of the effects in this movie, especially The Human TorchÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fire property.
All in all, the Fantastic Four was an excellent movie and a lot of fun.
Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, was a pretty fun movie. Nicole did, eerily, resemble the former Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) at times. Though the movie did take a different approach on Bewitched. Kidman plays Isabel, a witch who decides she wants to live the life of a mortal. Ferrell plays Jack, a down-and-out actor who gets a chance to play Ã¢â‚¬Å“DarrenÃ¢â‚¬Â in the remake of Bewitched. Jack wants to be the star of the show, so he wants to cast a no-name actress for Ã¢â‚¬Å“Samantha.Ã¢â‚¬Â Jack is egocentric and scene-stealing, but yet keeps a boyish charm that for some reason attracts Isabel. Isabel is a sweet, innocent, and naÃƒÂ¯ve at times. Even when she gets mad and tries to get even with Jack for what heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doing, she feels guilty and regrets it.
The scenes that I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care for were the TV shows of Bewitched they taped. They were extremely cheesy and campy. I was hoping they would modernize it.
Other than that, I thought the story was fun, and the roles were cast wonderfully. ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not going to win any awards. But if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re looking for a light-hearted, feel-good movie IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d recommend it.
“WowÃ¢â‚¬ÂÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the first thing I said when the movie ended. Batman Begins is probably the best movie IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve seen in years. If it doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t do better than the latest Star Wars in overall sales (I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean opening weekend), IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be surprised to say the least.
Yesterday, a friend surprised me with free passes to see the sneak preview to Batman Begins. I was looking forward to the movie, and jumped at the chance to see it early. Now, I was very skeptical that people had been saying that Bale would be a better Batman than Michael Keaton. After seeing the movie, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d have to sayÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ they were right! As much as I loved KeatonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s performances as Batman, Bale just took this movie to a whole new level.
Of course the supporting cast was excellent. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and Gary Oldman couldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have been better cast. Michael Caine portrayed Alfred, a wonderful foster-father-figure and friend. Morgan Freeman played the smaller role of Ã¢â‚¬Å“Fox,Ã¢â‚¬Â an inventor and employee of Wayne Enterprises. Gary Oldman, of course, played the incorruptible Sergeant Gordon, and we get to see the beginnings of the relationship between he (the future Commissioner) and Batman. Look closely, and youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll catch a glimpse of a crying baby, Barbara (aka Batgirl/Oracle) Gordon. Cillian Murphy played a wonderfully creepy villain, Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathon Crane. Bruce WayneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s mentor and martial arts trainer, a complex character, was played by the great, Liam Neeson. Katie Holmes even did a pretty decent job as Bruce WayneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s childhood friend who becomes a District Attorney of Gotham. All of the other minor roles were also cast very well. I could go on and on about them. Thankfully, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve already snagged Oldman and Bale for the next sequel. IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m hoping for Caine to return too.
The story was exceptional as well. The movie begins with Bruce Wayne in a prison in Asia, and we see flashbacks to his younger years, and the story develops as to why heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s there. The story is complex, but not to the point of being confusing. Gotham is headed for destruction, and is overrun with corruption and criminals. The story is how Bruce Wayne comes to the decision of fighting for his city, and overcoming his fears. We see the events and decisions that he makes that change Bruce into Batman. And how Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bruce WayneÃ¢â‚¬Â becomes the faÃƒÂ§ade, and Batman the real persona. While this movie is darker than the other Batman movies, there are brief elements of humor as well.
Gotham itself was an amazing product of special effects. They really outdid themselves in that area too. Now, since this was the story of how Wayne became Batman, not a lot of FX were needed the first half of the movie. But what they did with Gotham and BatmanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s gadgets were outstanding. Like I said, I could go on and on about this movie.
When my father & I arrived in Novi Friday night, we decided to drive to the Expo Center to make sure we could find it easily in the morning. We drove around the building, and were a little concerned since it didn’t look very large. We could see in through the glass doors, and it didn’t look like very many vendors were set up. But when we arrived the next morning, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it looked much larger on the inside, and there were quite a number of vendor booths! We were allowed in 30min prior to general admission, since I had purchased tickets early by mail. There was a table of freebies, where I picked up the movie poster for Batman Begins.