Triple Review Fest

I thought I would give out my thought on the book “Death from the Skies,” the movie “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” and the first season of “Full Metal Alchemist, series 2.”

Firstly, Death from the Skies:

death

(oops, should have focused more on the right, oh well)

Death from the Skies, I can say, is one of the really good science popularizing book out there. It is written by an author you may already know, a really popular blogger Phil Plait. The book is basically about a variety of phenomena in nature that could end life as we know it. But in my mind, that is only a trampolin to jump from towards broader topics of astronomy. Yeah, he talks about all the way to die (black hole is not a nice way to die), and in the end, we are all doomed (end of universe, proton decay), but he also talks about the processes that drive those phenomena, what makes them tick. In the end, you get to understand that those processes explain so much of what goes on in the universe.

When he wrote the book, he wrote it for the general audience, alright? There is no math at all, and he explains the phenomena, what we know, and how we know what we know in ways people without a lot of backgrounds in science can understand. He doesn’t shy away from the complexities of realities, though. He explains every type of destruction with many details, and the right amount of details, so that I didn’t end up bored. You would be amazed at how much scientists have found out about nature. This amazement makes the chapter of the sun’s death and the end of the universe my favorite chapters. The fact that we are able to predict what will happen to the sun, and even speculate with a lot of what was previously known the death of the universe with the necessary details is just incredible. Even I, an astronomy geek, got really absorbed in it. Now, don’t get me wrong, the end is very depressing, but he leaves you with enough glimmers of hope, although he suggests you leave them. It is not sensationalistic either. He reminds the readers of the odds all the time (at times annoying) At the end, he comes up with the odds of each one happening, assuring us that most of them will not probably happen in our lifetime. Plus, with enough dough, we could have the technology to save ourselves from asteroids.

The writing itself is lighthearted, and I love the injections of his particular style of humor. You know what I am talking about if you read his blog. I especially love the all too familiar lame puns he always tend to make. People should appreciate them more! Someday, I want to live in a world where people don’t have to apologize for making puns, or tell others that one wasn’t intended. This is a first step. 🙂 (Although he did apologize once…) Plus, a few of his notes at the bottom are quiet funny. It is true, one of the best way to tick off an astronomer is calling them an astrologer. Other things to appreciate about the book is the various astronomical photos. Especially the front cover with the sun, it is so cool!

There is not much of a negative really, except for a few boring repetitions here and there, and the constant attempt to soothe our hearts.

So, you get the idea. I loved the book, and I had a good time with it. It was money well spent.

The next review is for Half Blood Prince, which I suggest you really go and watch it. (Also, mugglenet has some thoughts on it in their excellent podcast) spoiler alert:

First and foremost, I want to say this: This is the best Potter movie yet. Compared to the previous five movies, it makes many improvements Let me tell you my problems with earlier movies. The fourth and fifth movie were way rushed, and due to the books’ lenght, they were pretty much gutted out. No single event in them seemed important enough. Also, I don’t know who chose the director for the fourth movie, but it was my least favorite movie of them. While all of the movies were alright, and some of the acting were superb, nothing in them really stood out. Also, I want to point out that Michael Gambon did a mediocre job at playing Dumbledore. Seriously, what is up with the super angry Dumbledore that yelled at Harry’s face in the fourth one? I think Dumbledore was channeling Jack Bauer at the time.

Anyways, in my views, this movie corrects many of the things I didn’t like about the previous films. This time I can say, Michael Gambon as Dumbledore was awesome. He had years to improve, and he finally got it right. And it was important that he gets it right, since part of the movie is about his relationship with Harry. Another thing I think the movie finally got things spot on is the tone. When it had to be, it was moody, and at other times, it was comedic. I thought they balanced those two well. This Potter movie is the funniest of them, and the comedy was done better than in the previous movies. I thought it represented the tones from the book the best. Plus, it was at time haunting, especially the cave potion drinking scene. Very disturbing, it was a scene very well done.

Pace wise, it was really well done. Considering the lenght of the book, they added the right scenes, and I never felt that it was rushing at all. Some of you Potter fans might complain about the missing memory scenes, but you know what? Given the context of the situation in the movie and the limit of the format, I think they added the right memories, each one quiet creepy in their own ways. Seriously, that Tom Riddle kid/teenager is really creepy. Also, they did distort some scenes and added others which were not in the book. Well, they were okay, and at other times, very appropriate for the movie format. For example, the Weasly house attack scene, while it wasn’t a big deal, it added to the feeling that the world wasn’t safe anymore. Another example is the astronomy tower scene where Harry was hiding underneath the top part. I thought it was necessary to get the audiences to trust Snape. But all of the changes remained faithful to the feeling of the original source. Overall, every scene felt they had a purpose, the comedy was spot on, and they didn’t feel rushed at all. Probably those who are not fan of Harry Potter can undertand the plot unlike the previous two movies.

Let me tell you also about the new addition of the character Horace Slughorn. The actor was spot on portraying this character who liked the connection of famous people, who hoarded on other people, but who also had his heart in the right place. My favorite scene involving him was the sad drunk scene in which he gave out his memory. He did an excellent portrayal of a man with guilt who was running away from responsability of what he did. Also, Malfoy finally has a role in the whole story, instead of as a prop for comic relief. Snape is also given a larger role, and this time, he is not used as a way to show how mean he is to Harry. I think people get that in general.

Overall, I thought that every aspect of what was wrong in the previous movies were corrected. While it is not the best movie in the world that should win an academy awards or anything else, the standards are well above the usual Hollywood popcorn movie. And I am really glad that they are reusing director David Yates for the Deathly Hallows. He really improved from the last movie.  Anyways, go and watch it! ^_^

Short review of Full Metal Alchemist, series 2 spoilers:

If you are not too familiar with this series, it is about two brothers, one who lost two limbs, the other his entire body, becoming an armor, in the quest for the philosopher’s stone in order to regain their body back after they broke a taboo of alchemy: no human transmutation. You see, their mother died, so they tried to revive her, but not only did it not work, they had to pay a price for that. The whole series is really fun to watch. It has great plot, great characters, and great thematic elements. It is overall tragic, yet hopeful at the same time. I also love the comdy of the series, especially people making fun of Edward’s height. The second series is similar of course. The difference is that it is following the comic version. The previous Full Metal diverged half way through after Hughes died (Whyy!!!!)  into an anime original plot, which I have got to say, was really good.

The first season of the series is basically mostly the first half of the previous series, which was until Hughes died. So it was more of a rushed version. In a way, I am glad, since anime has a tendency to hang on a plot forever, and plus, I have already seen it before. The final part of the first season, though, seems to diverge into a vastly different direction than the first series. It seems like the homunculuses are lead my a mysterious old man whom they call “Father.” If you ask me, his outline looks like that of Hohenheim. The initial part of the second season introduces another character, and it seems like the Hughes investigation turns into a different direction. Overall, I am satisfied, but I will have to watch further and see if it is any better than the previous one.

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One Response to Triple Review Fest

  1. Natalia says:

    Hi,

    Sorry to bother you, I was just wondering – the picture that you have with your half-blood prince review, is that available as a movie poster for purchase? I really like that and haven’t seen it before. Thanks!

    Natalia

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