Google Search

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The King Raven Trilogy

I read this series of books by Stephen Lawhead about a year ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It's an action-packed, fun retelling of the Robin Hood stories. The first in the series is called Hood, the second is Scarlet, and the third book is Tuck; each after the key character in that particular book.
Lawhead has done his homework in researching the stories and songs of Robin Hood that trace back to the middle ages. He says no one knows if the stories were actually true or just folk tales of the day that have lived on in different forms throughout the centuries. He also says there are different opinions as to where in the Britons, the legend originated. Lawhead's Hood comes from the tales of the Welsh which seems very different from the Robin Hood that I've heard of in movies. There are still enough similarities, however, to make it feel like a Robin Hood story. This version is wrapped up in a work of historical fiction steeped in realistic detail that brings the Welsh countryside and people to life.
What you'll get in this series is a small group of desperate heroes, fighting the entire British army to save their family, homes and the Welsh way of life. They use their wits, fight with a new invention called a long bow, and pray to God in order to win. The characters are lovable and brave and there are many lighthearted moments that keep it from getting too suspenseful. The character that fills the role of Robin Hood is actually named Bran. The town folk call him Ri Bran Hood which means something in Welsh. The name doesn't really matter though, because in Bran we have a truly great hero to cheer for.
If you can only read one of the books, I highly recommend Hood. I couldn't put it down when I read it. The other two are good as well and really flesh out the full story of how this rag tag group defeated the English army and held onto their land. Hood is the story of how Bran was thrust into the battle and ended up as a Robin Hood type character that gave the people a hero and the will to fight.
Who's It For? This is definitely a series made for adults, but I see no reason why teens and even advanced younger readers shouldn't read this series. Boys especially will love these books. There's plenty of action and heroes that stand for the right things to cheer for. There are several battle scenes that include descriptions of soldiers being shot with arrows. That's the only thing that some parents may want to watch out for. But, I wouldn't hesitate to have my son read this when he was 12 and up.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Comedian Tim Hawkins

One message that I'm passionate about telling anyone who will listen is that comedy does not have to be dirty to be funny. I like to site Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, Carol Burnett and Bill Cosby as examples of successful comedians that had lifetime careers of making people laugh without using vulgar language, sexual innuendos, or potty humor. I'm adding a new name to my list; Tim Hawkins.
Tonight, my family and I watched "Full Range of Motion" a concert film starring Christian comedian Tim Hawkins. I haven't laughed that hard for that length of a time (around 90 minutes) for a long long time. I watched it with my wife and three daughters, ages 21, 8 and 6. All 5 of us enjoyed it immensely, laughing out loud the entire time. My little ones didn't get some of the jokes that were aimed at parents or were reminiscent of the 1970s or 80s, but they still had a great time watching Tim's crazy expressions and movements.

I hate to label Tim as a "Christian" comedian, but about a fourth of his routines were about things that happen in the church or to Christians. The term also fits because Tim's comedy is all clean and flat out funny.
He makes observations about the things we all do that are right on, along with hilarious voices, sounds, body language, and facial expressions. Occasionally he'll pull out his guitar and sing original songs for laughs or spoofs of famous songs that would make Weird Al Yankovich proud.

There wasn't a single serious moment in the entire video. No closing on a serious note as has come to be expected in the Christian world. Every Christian comedian I've ever seen has ended his or her routine with some sort of serious message. Sure, that's a great idea, sometimes, but there are other times we just want to laugh our socks off. Life is hard, even for Christians. Tim helps us laugh and have a good time and stop taking our petty problems so seriously.
I've attached a couple of clips from the movie to give you a taste of the comedy of Tim Hawkins. And these aren't all the good parts. It was actually really difficult to choose from all the good stuff.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Superheroes Coming Soon - part 4

We can't leave out Wonder Woman. She's back this fall in an all new television series. The new actress to play eveyone's favorite female superhero is Adrianna Palicki. Many will know her from the series Friday Night Lights. She's got a new costume (3 different versions so far) and a bigger budget than the old series. The old series with Linda Carter is said to have had  a really low budget which translated into some really cheasy effects like having her spin around in order to change into her costume. I always thought Linda did a great job with what she had to work with but I do recall the series being a little pretty lame. I've included a clip below from that classic series to give us a point of reference. Imagine everything you see in this clip being shown in the new series only much much cooler.
It's hard to say how much different the new one will be other than better effects. One prediction I'll make is that we'll see a much darker version of Diana Prince a.k.a. Wonder Woman, just because that's what we get with every hero in every t.v. show these days. I hope the producers will make this one acceptable for the whole family. I'm sure it will be marketed to the kids.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Superheroes Coming Soon - part 3


Summary - Set during World War II, a young man named Steve Rogers is deemed too puny to serve in the United States military. Instead, he volunteers for a top secret military project that turns him into the ultimate soldier. He's a superhero dedicated to protecting his country at all cost. Captain America goes up against a villain named Red Skull and the entire Nazi army.

My Take - Captain America, like Thor due out in May, is a different kind of superhero than we've seen in movies so far. He's created in the 1940s by the US military to fight in a war. He doesn't have the kinds of powers that we expect a superhero to have. No flying or leaping ability. He can't throw tanks around or shoot webs from his hands. The abilities that are presented in the trailer and articles about the movie are incredible determination and an awesome shield. I'm sure there is more that he can do because he's injected with some kind of super serum by the military scientists, and comes out with bulging muscles that weren't there before. We'll have to wait for the movie to find out the full extent of his abilities.
Captain America: The First Avenger has the potential to be really really good. The characters look interesting. The idea of a super U.S. soldier who kicks Nazi butts is worth the price of admission alone. And the story isn't so far out there that we'll have to suspend our brains to accept it. If it turns out to be a well made movie, I predict Captain America will rival the recent Batman movies in popularity. Since there isn't as much sci-fi and fantasy in the concept, it will appeal to a wider audience. Plus, our country needs a hero that stands for good old fashioned American values. Let's hope Captain America is that hero.

Will It Be For Kids?
Because of the patriotic hero element, I think there is a good chance the producers will limit the violence in order to bring in a larger audience. There was no hint of sex in the trailer, so I don't think that will be a problem. However, I'm not naive enough to think that this movie will be innocent. There will be plenty of bad guys killed and usually blood in there somewhere, and really intense action too. I'm sure the little kids will beg to see this movie, especially after they get the Captain America toys in their kid's meals, but parents may want to check the movie out for content before they see it. Check back here at Watcher500 or a site that's always on top of things is

Friday, April 8, 2011

Superheroes Coming Soon - part 2

Summary - This is a prequel to the three X-Men movies that have come out over the past 11 years. This one centers on the first team of X-Men to come out of the Xavier Institute. Specifically, it chronicles the story of Professor X and Magneto as teenagers, discovering their powers, working together against a common enemy, and then ending up as enemies by the end of the story.

My Take - I did not read X-Men comics as a child, although I wish I had. The movies have been well made, especially the first one. If the producers had to keep the series going, I'm glad they decided to do something different this time and go back to the roots of the X-Men. The conflict between the two main characters sounds intriguing. Judging by the trailer, this movie could be very good.
For the Kids? - The trailer looks a little intense, but there's not enough there to really make a judgment. We'll have to wait to see what this movie holds for the kids or not for the kids.

Summary - Ryan Reyolds plays a test pilot who is chosen to wear a mystical green ring that gives him supernatural powers and makes him a member of an intergalactic peace keeping force that fights evil in the universe. Earth is his territory to protect.
My Take - The Green Lantern is a name I've heard since I was old enough to read comic books, but I've never had the pleasure of reading anything about this hero. From what I'm hearing in the wold of entertainment, I'm not the only one in the dark here. I'm sure the Green Lantern has a devoted following but it's nowhere near the size of Spiderman or Batman and the select comic book heroes who've been given the movie treatment. But, that doesn't mean it's going to be a bad movie. It does, however, mean that it won't have as many fan expectations to live up to, and it even has the potential to surprise us all in a good way.
Now that I've seen the trailer, I have a better handle on what to expect. It won't be your average super hero movie. In fact, I predict The Green Lantern will be one of two things; it will one of the best super hero movies ever made, or it will be a huge, expensive flop. I say this because it's heavy on the special effects which are impressive indeed. It looks as extravagant in story and scope as heavy-hitters like Avatar and Star Wars. I'm a little skeptical that it will be able to pull the whole thing off, but I'v also very hopeful. If it's as good as the trailer makes it out to be, then it will be truely great. One good thing this movie definitely has going for it is Ryan Reynolds. He's an excellent actor who ads a real likeable human element to everything he's in and I'm sure he'll be great as our green hero.
For the Kids? - My gut feeling here is that the heavy science fiction in this story may be a little too intense and even mind boggling for many of the younger kids, although teens will do great with it. Some of the alien characters in the trailer are scary and or discusting looking.

Watch for part 3 in this series: Captain America !

Superheroes Coming Soon - part 1

Hollywood is betting lots and lots of money on the superhero genre this summer. At least four big budget movies based on classic comic book series are scheduled to hit the theatres this summer. That can be good news or bad, depending on your taste in movies. Personally, I'm a big superhero fan having grown up reading comic books. I've liked some of the big screen adaptations, while others have greatly dissapointed me. For the most part, I still get excited when I hear that one of my boyhood favorites is finally being made into a movie in this day and age when anything seems possible in movies.

Will this new crop reach the bar set high by Sam Rami's Spiderman and Christopher Nolan's Batman? Or, will they fall flat like Daredevil, Catwoman and both attempts at The Incredible Hulk. An even bigger question for this article to ponder is whether or not these new heroes will dabble in the dark side of humanity like The Dark Knight, the biggest superhero movie of all time. I'll try to give you some heads up on these questions so you'll be ready when they come out this summer and your kids are suddenly begging you to let them go see them.

THOR - May 6th
Summary - A Norse god is cast out of the heavenlies because of his arrogance. On earth, he tries to adjust to the strange ways of humans. With god-like strength and a powerful hammer, Thor ends up defending earth from evil forces.
My Take - I was a fan of Thor as a youngster and I have to say, I'm a little bit nervous about seeing what they'll have to do to him to make him relatable on the screen. He's not your average guy who ends up with super powers like most heroes. He's a Norse god for goodness sake. However, concessions will be made I'm sure and it will probably be a good thing. I say that, because if Thor is to be a success on film it will surely be because the movie will contain rich, well rounded characters. The trailer hints at this with Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Natalie Portman as the pretty human who takes an interest in him. The characters look interesting and well acted. There seems to be some chemistry between the two leads, at least in the trailer. The special effects also look great, but you can bet that if the effects are the star of this movie, it won't last 3 weeks before it ends up in the $5 bin at Walmart.
FOR THE KIDS? - I don't see any hint of the Dark Knight here. It looks as if the worst problem Thor has is a bad attitude toward the beginning and even worse manners. Let's hope this movie is as clean and noble as it comes across on the trailer.