Monday, 8 December 2014

Terminator Genisys Trailer – My Thoughts

The trailer for Terminator Genisys with Arnold Schwarzenegger has finally seen the light of day. After watching it a few times my reactions were mixed, to say the least.

My first sentiment was exileration, off course – the latest installment of one of my favorite movie franchises is in the works. Terminator  and T2: Judgement Day were a part of my childhood and adolescent years, and I cannot even begin to express how much they meant and still mean to me. T3 was good, although it did represent a decline of quality in comparison with the first two parts. The fourth one, Terminator Salvation (I am not even sure if it is the correct title), left no particular mark. I also must mention the TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, which I thoroughly enjoyed. In my opinion, it is on the same level as T3, if not better, though it is hard to compare TV and Cinema.

After taking a closer look at the trailer, I realized that there seems to be a lot of promise to this film. The trailer starts with the images from the future war with the machines. The resistance movement headed by severely scarred John Connor (Jason Clarke) launches the final offensive against the machines and upon discovering that the machines have sent terminators to the past to kill Sarah Connor, they decide to send someone to protect her. Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) volunteers and we see him entering the time machine. Then we see him arriving to the past, in the same alley as in The Terminator, and he enters the same department store. A policemen follows him inside and then a van bursts through the wall with a young woman at the wheel, hitting the policeman with the back end. When she yells the too familiar words – Come with me if you want to live - we are completely aware of the twist. The policeman is actually a T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee).

The second half of the trailer shows us the arrival of the T-800 (young Arnold Schwarzenegger) who is greeted by another T-800 (present day Arnold Schwarzenegger), followed by a lot of action, lot of terminators, gun-totting, schoolbus-flipping, and in the end, after the unavoidable “I’ll be back”, a helicopter head-butting, the total highlight of this trailer.

It appears to me that they took the screenplay for The Terminator and rewrote it to make some sort of another T2, which could be a good thing, but not necessarily. A way had to be found to include an old Terminator in the movie, and for that matter, I think that part of the story is quite acceptable. Arnold IS the Terminator, period. There would be no franchise without him. However, I am a bit weary of the constant recycling. I do not think that every Terminator movie should include every sentence or image from the first one or two. Give Arnold some new one liners, he cannot keep repeating “I’ll be back” for all eternity. It could turn into a parody no matter how much some people like it.

There are some things about this trailer that I did not like. The future does not look nearly as dark and bleak as in the first two movies. I like the John Connor’s look though, with heavy scars on his face. Kyle Reese, on the other hand, looks miscast. Jai Courtney looks like a complete opposite of Michael Biehn. Where Biehn was slim, almost sickly, Courtney looks healthy, strong, ripped almost like a terminator.

As regards the casting of Emilia Clarke as Sarah Connor, she strikes me as a good choice. She appears to have that same intensity that could be seen in both Linda Hamilton and Lena Headey.

My biggest objection to this trailer concerns the fact that, in my opinion, it reveals too much of the plot. I remember when I watched T2 for the first time, I was shocked when it turned out that T-800 was the good guy. This trailer seems to contain every major twist, at least in the first half of the film. I hope that I am wrong and that there will still be some surprises when the film comes to cinemas.

The final question is whether I would go to see this movie based on this trailer alone. The answer is, off course, yes. It’s The Terminator, with Arnold Schwarzenegger. It really does not need a trailer to attract me to the cinema. However, there is a slight feeling of apprehension. It is like when someone you care about is going to do something important and you are worried. You know that you will still care no matter what happens, but you would rather see that person succeed. The premiere will be in July, 2015.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Star Wars The Force Awakens Teaser

We have all seen it by now. The teaser trailer for Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens caused mainly positive reactions. It has been analyzed in detail all over the Internet so I will not go in particular depth but I feel the need to share a few thoughts. Overall, the trailer has the feel that is reminiscent of the original trilogy which is a very good thing. Hopefully, we will seen some of the magic that made us fall in love with Star Wars at the first place.

The highlight of the teaser was the Millennium Falcon, off course. Cannot wait to see it again on the big screen. The way the scene is shot reminded me of the way the scenes with Serenity were shot in Firefly. There is that same chasing camera that follows the ship in its flight, making everything look more dynamic. the same technique was then used in BSG, the new series, which also looked awesome. This inspired me to re-watch Firefly and if I find time I will try to write some reviews of this prematurely cancelled, yet incredible series.

Star Wars Episode VII The Force Awakens will be in cinemas in December 2015. Seems like eternity right now, but we will get there. The wait will be over.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Edge of tomorrow

I was eager to see this movie ever since I saw the first trailer. It won me over immediately.

The first thing that attracted my attention was the mentioning of The Bourne Identity, as the previous work of the director Doug Liman. The Bourne Identity is one of my all-time favorites and I had a lot of confidence in its director. Secondly, all personal traits aside, I really like Tom Cruise as an actor. He has a lot of charisma and he is a good actor. I think he was a very good Jack Reacher as well.
There was a lot of talk on the Internet recently about the underwhelming box office performance of this movie and the reasons for it. The consensus appears to be that the marketing was to blame. In spite of the fact that some $100m was spent, people seemed to have had the wrong impression from the trailers about what the movie would be like. I loved the trailer and it was clear to me that it would be some sort of SF Groundhog Day, which is, by the way, also one of my all-time favorites. It was also clear that Cruise’s character does not start as a hero, and the Emily Blunt would play a significant role. All those things attracted my attention. On the other hand, one prominent aspect of the movie was absent from this trailer (cannot say about the others because I avoided them because I wanted to see the movie without spoilers). Humor. It considerably improves the overall quality of the movie. Perhaps if that had been emphasized more in the trailers, the movie would have fared better. Still its quality is undeniable and it will only be proved in years to come.

The movie starts with media news on the meteor crash that turns out to be an alien invasion. Cruise is a military PR officer who comes to England and is ordered to report live on the attack of allied forces on the enemy positions. He rejects and tries to flee, ending up tased and handcuffed. He wakes up in the base and gets attached to a company of soldiers who are to be deployed the next day. Cruise is placed in a battle suit, a sort of exoskeleton that has been seen many times in SF movies. The attack of the allied forces is reminiscent of the Saving Private Ryan invasion at the beginning of the movie. It is very well done so I will not spend too many words on that.
This is where the plot thickens. Cruise manages to kill an alien and gets himself killed, only to wake up the day before, in the military base. The circle keeps repeating itself and Emily Blunt’s character gets drawn in. She understands what is going on because she had the same experience in the previous battle. Together, they try to end the war, using the advantage that Cruise’s ’’immortality’’ gives them. I will no longer describe the plot in order not to reveal the finale so if you have not seen the movie, get it, watch it, it is a real treat, and if you have, you know what happens. You can watch it again, I know I will.
One of the strongest points of the movie is its story. I loved the explanation of the Cruise’s situation. Also, the character development is well done. Cruise’s character changes in the course of the movie, from scared coward, to pragmatic soldier, to disillusioned and hopeless, to determined and self-sacrificing. Of course, he falls in love with Blunt’s character in the process, which affects his actions, while she is naturally unaware. It is satisfying to watch how it all unravels, and the ending was quite to my liking.

Blunt is excellent in this movie. She perfectly blended various character traits, and she is physically fantastic. She actually does a perfect elbow lever on the floor when she first appears. Awesome.

There are a lot of funny moments. It is fun to see Cruise gets killed in all sorts of ways. I read somewhere that he has been killed in this movie more times than in all other movies that he has made in his entire cereer

The verdict: It is, hands down, one of the best movies this year and I am convinced that it will be more and more appreciated with time. 5/5

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Trailer for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron

This was supposed to be revealed a few days from today, but thanks to Hydra, it is already here.

Looks rather dark, ominous, with a lot of conflict between the Avengers... in a word: Amazing! Can't wait!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Beyond the wall - Essays on Ice and Fire

The phenomenon that is А Song of Ice and Fire has long ago transcended the domain of literature. The HBO television series is already one of the most viewed shows on television, and the most pirated one, for sure. It has literally taken the modern world by storm. 

The reason is simple – it’s got quality. The novels that make the series are so layered, exquisitely written and meaningful that they present an abundant source of material for debate and deliberation.

Therefore it is no surprise that something like this has been published. Beyond the Wall: Exploring George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, from A Game of Thrones to A Dance with Dragons is a collection of some 15 essays on various aspects of Martin’s exquisite literary work. And these essay do it just.

The contributors are RA Salvatore (foreword), Daniel Abraham, Linda Antonsson, Myke Cole, Elio M. García, Jr., Brent Hartinger, John Jos. Miller, Alyssa Rosenberg, Jesse Scoble, Caroline Spector, Matt Staggs, Susan Vaught, Ned Vizzini, Gary Westfahl, Adam Whitehead, and Andrew Zimmerman Jones.

All of the essays in the collection are remarkable. Well-written and interesting, they provide the reader with deep insight into the very world of Westeros, but also into some unexpected but important and noteworthy aspects of these books. For example, Daniel Abraham wrote about the challenges related to adapting the original books into graphic novels, and military science fiction writer Myke Cole tackled the way how Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder shaped many of the leading characters.

There is also an excellent character study of Littlefinger in a Petyr Baelish and the Mask of Sanity written by Matt Staggs.

One of the most interesting to me was the essay of a television writer Ned Vizzini, Beyond the Ghetto, How George RR Martin Fights the Genre Wars, about the biases against genre fiction and how that affected the critical response to the television series.

All in all, this collection represents a well of knowledge and a true treat for every fan of George RR Martin’s work. It is a must read.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Monster Hunter International – Urban Fantasy with a Twist

To tell the truth, I am not a big fan of urban fantasy. The reason for this aversion towards is because I do not like when fantastical events take place in an urban, everyday setting. To me, it just feels as if something important is missing. I like reading about invented new worlds, whether based on science or pure imagination. World building is one of the aspects of fantasy and science fiction that made me such an avid reader and follower of the genre.
On the other hand, I am not a big fan of “sub-genreing” either, if such a word exists at all. In my opinion, genre labeling is just a mean of advertising with profit as the ultimate goal. GRR Martin once said, “…a story is a story is a story, and the only thing worth writing about is the human heart in conflict with itself.” That is why I avoid being constricted by labels such as military fantasy, military sci-fi, paranormal romance and who knows what. I try to read good books, and if they happen to have dragons in them, all the better.
So why do I even pay attention to these labels? Well, they are impossible to avoid and they can usually give you a starting point when you are writing a review.
I am always on the lookout for something new and interesting, and I have no fear of trying new things. That is why when two of my friends decided to persuade me to read Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter International, I conceded without much resistance, so here is my review, and yes, it does contain spoilers.

The protagonist of the book is Owen Zastava Pitt, an everyman who is one day attacked at work by his boss-turned-werewolf. He survives, having killed the werewolf, and is recruited by a private company that hunts and kills supernatural beings presenting a threat to mankind. He is quickly drawn into this parallel world where war is waged on vampires, werewolves, weights, demons, and almost every kind of monster that has ever been described in oral or written literature. Some of them are close to their usual stereotypes, while others are so different that they are unrecognizable.  
There are some exquisite homages to Tolkien and Lovecraft. The book reminded me a lot of Carpenter’s Vampires. There are plenty of well described action sequences, interesting characters and ideas, and a lot of humor, which make this book quite an entertaining read.
However, there are some things that I did not like. For one, the main character starts like an everyman, an ordinary accountant, but it turns out that he is an expert gunman, big and strong, experienced hand-to-hand combatant, trained for the inevitable world’s end by his war-hero father, and psychic as well. By the end, he gets the girl of his dreams and saves the world. A bit far-fetched, in my opinion.
Also, the fact that mother and father of one of the main characters are vampires, and one of the main characters is a werewolf, creates some contradiction. The former are discarded as monsters and are to be hunted, while the latter is accepted as an ally, and he is loved and protected.
Actually, thinking more about it, those are minor issues and if you don’t mind them (and you shouldn’t) you will probable like the book.
It is interesting to mention that, apparently Correia has put a lot of himself in the main character, which is evident from his biography posted at his site. That piece makes quite an interesting read in itself.

The verdict: I liked Monster Hunter International. I liked it very much. It is fun, quick-paced and  unpretentious. Still, I did not like it so much that I would definitely read its sequel(s). The jury is still out on that issue. When and if I am in the mood for some gun-loving monster hunters, I know where to look for them. If I were forced to grade the book, it would be somewhere above the middle: 3/5.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Joe Abercrombie – fantasy with grit

When I decided to start reading Mr. Abercrombie’s novels, I did a brief consideration of the reading order and opted for The Blade Itself, the first book in The First Law trilogy. As my expectations were rather high I was not surprised with the overall quality but I did find some aspects of the books more satisfying. There will be some spoilers in the remainder of this article so read with caution, if you happened to have stumbled on this blog and are interested in reading what some guy from who knows where has to say about these particular works of literature.

I have read five of Abercrombie’s novels in total, without pauses. When I read series of books, and I do have all published parts at hand, I usually read something else between parts of the series. I don’t have a specific explanation for that but if I had to explain myself, I would say that I do it so as not to grow weary of the same setting, characters or both. This tactic has helped me wrestle through The Eye of the World, but that is another story…

In this case, however, there was no need for such approach. I was through The First Law very quickly, and it left me craving for more. It was The Heroes then, followed by Red Country, after which I decided to make a little break.

First, I will mention some of the obvious strong points of Abercrombie’s writing. Characterization is one of three essential elements of good writing, the other two being plot and style, and it is simply superb. Abercrombie has great skill in making lifelike and realistic characters. Most of them are not likable, and those who are, usually get killed soon. I must confess that Logen Ninefingers, is my favorite. I still cannot decide if he has a split personality, or is there a demon who possesses him during battle, or is he a berserker who gets into a battle frenzy. He is a very good example of Abercrombie’s characterization craft. Glokta is another, maybe even more nuanced. There are also some particularly interesting female characters. Characterization is definitely one of the strongest elements of Abercrombie’s books.

As regards style, it is in perfect harmony with Abercrombie’s take on fantasy literature, or its deconstruction, conditionally speaking. He is often using internal monologue, colloquialisms, characters are swearing, there are a lot of quips. On the other hand, there is not much description, except in battle sequences, and those are top of the line. The best action sequences that I have read so far were in Paul Kearney’s Macht series, and Abercrombie is getting pretty darn close. All in all, Abercrombie’s writing style is perfectly suitable for the grittiness that he is trying to convey.

That leaves us with the plot. There is not much to object in this respect. All Abercrombie’s books that I have read are fast-paced. He has achieved great balance between action and the rest. Since my reading time is restricted to commuting and bedtime, I had been expecting that it would take me a lot of time to read these books. However, Abercrombie just makes you find time. He is that good.

The world that Abercrombie has created is a harsh world, world where magic exists but barely, world where it does not pay to be nice because you will pay for it. It is a world where people get hurt, crippled, tortured, cheated, deceived, manipulated and every victory has a bitter taste. One just has to be realistic about these things. And this world is exactly that. Realistic

Verdict or De gustibus non est disputandum: I am not very good at grading but I can highly recommend these books. It does not matter if you like this genre or that. A good book is a good book. Try Abercrombie, you might like it a lot.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Comic Books and Collectables Exchange in Belgrade

Comic Books and Collectables Exchange in Belgrade is a fairly modest event where enthusiasts go to sell and buy comic books and collectables. It took place last weekend.
I had a nice time browsing through comics, books, figurines as well as board games.
I talked with one of the guys selling board games about Firefly board game, and I am really considering getting one of these, being a big fan of the series.
I got my kids a few happy meal toys and they were extatic
All in all, an afternoon well spent.

Here are a couple of images. I wasn't prepared for taking pictures and it didn't occur to me that I would be publishing them on this blog. I took them just for the sake of it but here they are anyway.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Movies to come in 2014

Well, I am a cinephile, movie buff, film lover... call it whatever you like, but watching movies is something I utterly and completely enjoy.
While there are still many 2013 (and 2012, 2011, 2010... you get the idea) movies that are on my to be seen list, I am eagerly awaiting most of those included in this interesting list.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Welcome to Domain of Tanaros

I am Tanaros and this is my domain.

I chose this name based on the character Tanaros Blacksword from the Sundering books by Jacqueline Carey, which I heartily recommend. I hope to write a review of this duology but I will have to re-read it first because it has been a long time since I had read it.

I am a translator by profession, with a degree in English Language and Literature. I like science fiction and fantasy, but it is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when my likes and interests are in question. 

You are welcome to enter and share my thoughts on books, films, music, technology, current events and life in general. Hopefully, my writings will be of interest to you and provoke you to think and further widen your horizons.

This was the first step on my long lasting desire to start a blog of my own, and I hope that the journey will be long and enriching.

Best of all.