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Sean E. Mcgrath "kierianeleison" RSS Feed (Austin, TX USA)

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Coven of Wolves
Coven of Wolves
Price: $2.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than Twilight; also (somehow) gayer., March 27, 2012
This review is from: Coven of Wolves (Kindle Edition)
Devin is on the run from the sadistic Malik for breaking faith with his coven by trying to leave, which is a no-no in wiccan circles (oaths are the bread-and-butter of any magic). But this isn't a Dungeons and Dragons dream of being a wizard, these guys are actual witches with connections to real power. Devin is going to need all the friends he can get to stay alive. Peter Saenz brings depth to his characters and urgency to his story, even managing to work in some man-on-man romance in the quieter moments. Well done!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 13, 2012 8:01 AM PDT

X-Men - The Last Stand (Collector's Edition)
X-Men - The Last Stand (Collector's Edition)
DVD ~ Patrick Stewart
7 used & new from $0.01

9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars because i can't give it zero stars...., October 6, 2006
If I could pick one word to decribe X3, it would be "unmotivated". There are events and actions in the movie that totally betray not only the first two films, but in and of themselves do nothing to advance the plot of the movie. Others are completely inexplicable. I'm going to phrase these events in a series of "WHY" questions.

1. Why was Alkali Lake covered in a fog so dense when Wolverine and Storm arrived that they couldn't even see each other? Did this advance the plot somehow or make the floating rocks seems that much more dramatic because they were hidden or was it an attempt to have Halle Berry get more "I am powerful; look at me act" time?

2. Why did Jamie Maddrox join Magneto? Poor guy was locked up in a solid metal box and missed Magneto whole speech about Mutant Freedom but his first words after ebing freed were not "Who are you and how did you get me out of this prison?" but rather "I'm in! Sign me up!" How did he know what he was signing up for or if signing up was even an option?

3. Why didn't someone tell Juggernaut he was wearing a melted tin can on his head?

4. Why couldn't Magneto keep his character straight? This guy changed his tune and his rationales every few seconds. Is he saddened by Charles' death or is he happy that the competition is gone? He's against the cure but has no problem declaring that "Any mutant who stands in our way, we will use the cure against them!" He abandons Mystique in a government prison vehicle after she's changed to a human and doesn't even suspect that she (as his right-hand mutant) would be pissed enough to give him up to the said government. Set aside for a moment that Mystique rescued him in X2, shouldn't he, as a Holocaust survivor, have had pity towards her instead of blaming the victim?

5. Why was that crappy Phoenix origin allowed to go forward? And why after Bryan Singer (who needs to marry me) took such loving care to give use the Phoenix as the closing image of X2 was there not even a HINT of fire around Jean in this movie?

6. Why did twenty minutes elapse in the movie before anyone even started asking questions or speculating about what happened to Scott? Moreover, why did Professor X (who died AFTER Scott did (ostensibly - we never saw Scott's body)) have a funeral AND a gravestone AND an eternal flame burning while Scott had NOTHING to mark his death, not even a gravestone? (It begs the question here to ask "Why did Scott die?")

7. Why the coarse language, up to and including the legendary and completely inappropriate, "I'm the Juggernaut, BITCH!!!"

8. Why did Professor X say to Logan, "I warned you."? When did this warning happen? In what way was Jean's waking up and dry humping Wolverine not only HIS FAULT but also something Prof X warned him about?

9. Why did Magneto use his powers to turn a simple doorknob?

10. When Magneto tells Juggernaut, "No one gets in (to the Grey residence)," why does Juggernaut throw Wolverine in through the window during their fight?

11. Why did Kitty say she missed home and the "first snow (of Chicago)"? She lives in Westchester, NY!!! It snows there ALL the time!!! It's not like they moved the mansion to Boca Raton.

12. Why did Jean look lobotomized the whole time? Yes, the Dark Phoenix effect to her face was the highlight of the movie, but it only happened twice. Where is her "rage", her "passion" that Magneto spoke of? And really why was she with Magneto? If someone had give her a line like, "You're beneath me, but this drama may be of some amusement. So, play on, little ants but God help you if you bore me." (yeah, ok, that;'s bad...), but SOMEthing to explain why she just stood there.

13. What was it about the Angel that resolved Storm to keep the school open after she three seconds before basically was locking the doors? Aren't ALL the students in need of a safe place? (yeah, I know , that's a "what" question)

14. When Magneto announces that "enough mutant blood has been spilt already" as a threat to the human.. uhm, the last incident of violence against mutants was Pyro blowing up a clinic for mutant wanting the cure. It was a very President Bush thing to do.

15. WHY OH WHY did Magneto have to move the entire Golden Gate Brige to get to Alcatraz? Was it so he could say the line, "Charles always did want me to build bridges?" Why not just make a metal disk for everyone to fly over on? He did it in X2. I kow it's the "money shot" so to speak - the opening declaration of war on th\e humans, but it lacked the finesse I've come to expect form Magneto.

16. Why did the sun take about 3 seconds to set?

17. Why did Rogue disappear for the second half of the movie?

18. How did Warren manage to fly from NY to SF only about 20 minutes behind the X-Jet? And why did Warren who from all descriptions hated his wings, suddenly decide to keep them? (right - a "how" question :))

19. Why did Leech just suddenly disappear from the movie? What happened to him?

20. And finally (another "how" question) HOW OH HOW did mutants and humans suddenly become friends again after all those horrible deaths on Alcartraz?? The end was right up there with Starship Troopers - thousands of people dead, their best friends eaten or used as bug incubators, an entire way of life almost destroyed and the closing line ON THE BATTLEFIELD is "Good things happen when the three of us are together!" WTF?

If someone can help me with answers here, I'd love to hear them. I'm sad. I mean actually, physically let down and saddened by the movie. AND before I hear the words "fanboy" and "thirty years of history" and "canon", let me say I know that to do the "fundie literalist" version of the Phoenix story would have been impossible BUT Bryan Singer departed from the "mainstream" X-Men story so it IS possible to do a good movie without slavishly following the text. My point is that this doesn't even follow the continuity of the previous two movies nor does it follow its own continuity.

About the DVD itself, the 10 delected scenes are all under 20 seconds each (most under 10) and the three alternate ending have nothing to do with Phoenix, but are rather "alernate closings" - the final image of the movie as the music swells and the lights come up. All very disappointing.

Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2007 10:15 PM PST

Noah's Arc - The Complete First Season
Noah's Arc - The Complete First Season
DVD ~ Darryl Stephens

22 of 37 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Needed but Needed this?, August 26, 2006
I understand the need for there to be more visible queer black characters in the forefront of queer media. Even Queer as Folk which broke so much ground in terms of the gay soap opera was still mighty white. So, while I applaud LOGO for their presentation of Noah's Arc, I have to ask, even though there is a need, does this show answer the need?

I found the show to be interesting, but the plot holes and lack of structure (ironic considering the titual character is a writer) to be annoying, too annoying to appreciate the more charming moments (but only moments) the show had.

Among the annoynaces were:

*Who IS Trey? Hot guy, but completely under utilized in his role. For all it matters, Alex could be single. And why does he have to be a nurse? He could be a pilot or a waiter or the CEO of Sony or a parrot for all that he does each episode. Same thing with Brandy - what a GREAT character to add to the mix. Someone sassy and all LA Business, but she's just a vehicle for Noah to have a "secret" from Wade.

* Why are plot points brought up and then never used again? For example, the guy robbing Ricky's store while he's getting busy in back would make a great plot for Ricky to deal with - calling the police, having to explain where he was, having him come to some realization and grow as a character. Nope - it was dropped. Or Fernando, the HIV+ hustler whose only role was to serve as a vehicle for Alex quitting his job to open a new clinic. What happened to Fernando - he's a character, a character that Alex could have used to grow as a chracter himself, not a plot device.

*The pacing seems all off in the show. For example, when Chance moves in with Eddie we get no information about how they met, what they mean to each other, how they came to the decision to move in together - yet within 5 minutes, Chance is trying to back out of the living together situation. Why? If we assume it's "for the regular reasons" well then this main character is just a shmuck - and a two-dimentional one at that; if there's a more compelling reasn, I'd like to see it acted out. Also, what was up with Chance and his landlord? They act like they are very close but we don't know why or if we should even care.

*Why does it take less than an episode to solve problems? No problem seems .. well, problematic. Nor do they really seem all that important. Dive an SUV into a house? No problem - it's built like a tank (not a scratch on it) and the resident doesn't want to press charges. Closested boyfriend brings you to meet his straight friends for the first time? No problem - order an apple martini and cut to the next scene. Let the audience figure out what might have happened. Closeted boyfriend jealous of your best friend's playfulness? No problem - ignore what he's feeling and make sure that in the next scene he puts his arms around you first.

I blame two things - weak writing and the show's 30 minute running time. If the show were an hour long, there would be much more time to develop not only the characters but conflicts and the resolutions as well. If the writers were stronger they'd be able to navigate the characters' way through real, interesting daily life conflicts and resolutions without such abruptness.

The idea behind Noah's Arc answers the need for diversity in queer entertainment and may be "better than nothing", but I think the community deserves "something more". The rub between the need for this show and its sloppy execution of this show makes me hope that others will cry out for better quality in future seasons.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 29, 2009 4:51 PM PDT

Firefly: The Complete Series
Firefly: The Complete Series
DVD ~ Nathan Fillion
Price: $9.99
22 used & new from $9.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow. Just.... wow., January 1, 2004
This review is from: Firefly: The Complete Series (DVD)
I never saw "Firefly" when it was aired on Fox. I knew it was there. I WANTED to see it (Joss Whedon is an amazing amazing creator of stories), but never got around to. Then a friend of mine showed me an episode. Then a second.. long story short, I own the DVDs now.
We all know the storyline and how well the writers crafted a space western, but it's the characters of Firefly that make this show as top notch as it is. Every actor has developed a person who is unique, who breathes on the screen, who brings life to the stories. And, really, isn't that what we want in our TV and movies - characters whose stories and their endings are important to us because we care? Someone else mentioned "Star Wars" and how the prequels sucked. Why? Because no one cared about the characters.
The writers of Firefly have also created a unique culture of the future, even down the nuances of language. The intermittent use of Chinese which flows naturally into conversations (watch it with the CC on, there are NO translations.. everyone has to use context to figure out what's being said. Brilliant!) and the vocabulary - "a reader" for "psychic", "sly" for "gay", "shepherd" for "priest" - create an environment that is alien and yet familiar. We are disoriented because we are forced to wade through their culture and make a place for oureselves there. Luckily, there are enough welcoming images that it's easy to get comfoprtable and start enjoying.
Joss Whedon and his team made a product that I shamefully ignored, and that got cancelled before its time.
Hopefully, we'll get that movie soon.

The Wolves in the Walls (New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books (Awards))
The Wolves in the Walls (New York Times Best Illustrated Children's Books (Awards))
by Neil Gaiman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.86
124 used & new from $0.01

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars oooOOoOOOooohhh!, August 16, 2003
I had the pleasure of hearing Neil Gaiman read this story to an appreciative audience back in 1999. He said he was waiting for Dave McKean to get free to illustrate the story before he would publish it.
FINALLY, it's here!!!
This story has all the feel of a fairy tale told at summer camp by Neil himself - which makes sense. One can feel Gaiman in every page. The words bounce and caper. They repeat and give rhythm to the story. Words, words, words and each one is perfection.
As a high school English teacher, I will be using this book as a model of excellent word choice in writing. I hope my students will be as inspired as I was.

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials)
The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials)
by Philip Pullman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $14.00
376 used & new from $0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The First is the best!, May 14, 2002
The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman is a wonderful, edge-of your seat fantasy/adventure story set in a world parallel to our own. The hero of the book, Lyra Belacqua, and her daemon, Pan, orphaned residents of Oxford College, find themselves in the middle of a plot by the College and by the Church to discover the nature of Dust. A plot which means the death of many children, maybe even Lyra's!
Ostensibly a young adult fantasy novel, some of the issues and philosophies brought up in the book were more geared towards adults who have perhaps had World Philosophy 101 or Comparative Religion 101 in college. Written in Chapter Book format, The Golden Compass uses the third person narration technique, while also giving us first-person views into Lyra's thoughts.
The Golden Compass is set in a world parallel to our own, at Jordan College, where science, theology and magic and taught as one. Lyra Belaqua, orphan and ward of the Scholars of Oxford, and her daemon (in this world daemons are the physical manifestation of a person's soul. They can change their forms (usually animals) to reflect the mood or disposition of their "mate". They are not to be mistaken for demons, servants of evil.), Pantalaimon, are well-known among the people of oxford who regard her not only as a joy but as a major trouble-maker. Lyra becomes involved in a plot to uncover the nature of Dust (a supposedly evil substance that hovers near children and their daemons) when she runs afoul of The Gobblers - people who kidnap children and only children - who have taken her best friend, Roger. Things become worse when she is kidnapped by Mrs. Coulter, a woman who claims to be Lyra's mother.
Mrs. Coulter is a member of the Oblation Board - more famously known as The Gobblers - which has been kidnapping children and performing experiments on them, specifically severing the bond that exists between a human and its daemon. When the bond is severed the daemon disappears and the child dies soon afterwards. Mrs. Coulter and her group believe they are saving children by making them "immune" to Dust, and thereby killing them.
Working against the Board is Lyra's uncle, Lord Asriel, a Scholar of Jordan and explorer. He believes he can find the source of Dust and make its power his own. While Lord Asriel is against Mrs. Coulter and the Board, he is not altogether on Lyra's side, either. Eventually, he traces the source of the Dust and uses its power to declare war on Heaven, opening a gateway to another dimension and stepping through it.
This is the first book in a trilogy (the sequels being The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass), and it derives its name from an artifact of power given to Lyra - an alethiometer, which can detect the truth of any situation. Lyra uses this "golden compass" to aid her friends - the witch queen Serafina Pekkala; Lee Scoresby, a Texan aeronaut; and Iorek Byrnison, a brave bear and king of his people - on her quest to save her uncle from Mrs. Coulter and find out what Dust really is.
The Golden Compass is not what many would consider an "instant children's classic" due to the heavy amounts of theology and mysticism presented therein. Many people may pick it up thinking they are getting a Harry Potter offshoot, but instead wind up with The Divine Comedy. It is abnormally dense for a young adult book, much denser than any of Philip Pullman's other books, and yet it contains themes that would be universally accessible - Trust, Adventure, Independence, Good vs. Evil., etc.
I found this to be totally fascinating and couldn't wait to find out if there really were worlds hidden behind the curtain of the Northern Lights, and if Dust was good or evil or just Natural. The problem, however, is that most teenagers are not equipped, I believe, to read and understand such dense riddles as The Nature of Life, The Universe and Everything, which is put forward in this book.
Contrariwise, there are some very powerful, non-cerebral, emotional moments in which the characters are not just "talking heads" but are "flesh and blood", fully developed people. This is the strength of Philip Pullman's writing - to have powerful characters that the audience can relate to and like and be engaged by.
Lyra is, of course, the most powerful of these characters, as she drives the entire plot along by her actions. She is a passionate girl who has deep seated feeling of compassion and anger and conscience and mischief. Do not expect her to be a "good little girl" who goes blithely to her destiny. Lyra confronts her fate as only a warrior could.
Among the many other human characters Pullman created in this world, there are a host of non-humans who are no less engaging than their mortal counterparts, and indeed are more interesting at times. We meet Sarafina Pekkala - the witch queen, who knows of Lyra's destiny and who proudly and bravely fights by her side; Iorek Bjornsen, deposed King of the Bears whose soul rests in his armor; and Pantalaimon, Lyra's Daemon, her soul and best friend in the world.
The Golden Compass is supposedly geared towards young adults, but the issues and theories dealt with in its pages are not (to my mind) easily understood by young adults. I have no doubt that the story and characters are intriguing, but the major conflicts that develops in the book - that of Lord Asriel declaring war on Heaven, Dust being Fallen Angels - may be to much like Paradise Lost for most teens to understand. The Devil may be in the details, but it's the Philosophy "there is no good or evil but what saying makes it so" wherein many characters "fall". The depth of The Golden Compass sets it apart from Harry Potter or even Buffy.
In conclusion, I would enthusiastically recommend this book to anyone who is interested in pseudo-mystical, religious, fantasy thrillers. The plot is well developed, the characters are engaging, and even though it reads a bit "older" than Young Adult The Golden Compass is nevertheless fascinating. I enjoyed every page. My best friend would get a copy for their birthday.

The Black Hole
The Black Hole
DVD ~ Maximilian Schell
Offered by The Squirrel with the Dragon Tattoo
Price: $46.99
44 used & new from $0.01

4.0 out of 5 stars Ever notice..., April 8, 2002
This review is from: The Black Hole (DVD)
...that V.I.N.C.E.N.T. (who, as most people here have noted, is about the cutest robot since that little bugger from STAR WARS) looks a LOT like Eric Cartman of South Park fame? Wonder if Matt Stone and Trey Parker planned that...?
In any case, I like this movie. I just finished watching it and I have to say that though it scared the bejeezus out of me as a child (and is probably the flashpoint of my panic disorder..). I mean, really! It was a children's movie that had corpses spring up from the bottom of the screen, glimpses of Heaven and Hell, and the isolation of being flung to the far side of the universe (presumably) away from everything one has ever known. That's a lot foe a kid to take in.. especially from a Disney movie. After this "Altered Staes" seemed tame.
I view The Black Hole as a sort of homage (pronounced "OHM-ahzh" in the snooty French way) to classic Space Operas such as 2001 (which as great as it is, it's also one of the most elongated, boring movies ever made), Space: 1999, and Forbidden Planet. The Black Hole draws from the dated costuming, awkward (yet, at the time, trendy) "space" vocabulary, archetypal characterization (which does encompass wooden acting and somewhat trance-like line delivery) high-tech weaponry and robots-as-sentient-personalities that made the Space Operas a lasting American Institution. Yay.
I don't understand the ending at all.. I'm not sure anyone does, but it certainly plays along with the rest of the movie - philosophical quotes (don't you LOVE V.I.N.C.E.N.T.?? He's like the best part of the movie!), footnotes, scientific (and somewhat fantastical) theories and dropped plots (just what was that "Protect me from Maximillian" line all about?). Yum!
All-in-all, The Black Hole is classic sci-fi stuff - confused, bizzare, lacking plot goals all considered - I will watch it again and again.

A.I. - Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
A.I. - Artificial Intelligence (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)
DVD ~ Haley Joel Osment
Price: $5.00
275 used & new from $0.01

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Darn..., March 9, 2002
The first twenty minutes of this movie made me wonder why the reviews had been so horrible when it came out. Then I saw the next two hours.
There are certain elements put forth by Plato thousands of years ago about how good plays (and by extension, movies) should be structured. A.I. broke most of these rules.
1.) "No character or action is superfluous." In A.I. wonderful interesting intriguing characters are introduced then immediately removed form the movie. Why offer David a nannybot then have her distroyed at a flesh fair? What happened to the scientist who tried to buy David out of slavery? Why did David's creator finally meet him, give him hope for a new family only to NEVER BE SEEN AGAIN WITHOUT EXPLANATION AS TO WHERE HE WENT?!?!??! Why show David repeat "Please make me a real boy" about a billion times in four interminable minutes (it was like the end of "Poltergeist III" after that girl died and the director had to do something to cover up her obvious not-coming-to-work-ever-again so charatcers ran around for 20 minutes yelling "Carol Ann!" without ANY other dialogue!)??
2.) "Brevity of time and place." Whereas in a quest there hero can roam about for some time and finally get to his destination, a 2000 year jump forward in time in the last twenty minues was unnecessary and added more confusion to an already murky plot.
3.) "Reasonably assume the audience knows something and can infer the rest." What the heck happened to the humans and why was there an Ice Age? How did the supermachines evolve? Why was it necessary to radically alter the entire world in order to have a happy ending? Why not have a sad ending?
4.) "All conflicts must be resolved." Whatever happened to Joe? He was charged with murder we assume but whatever became of that? I guess the impending Ice Age made follow-through unnecessary. Shouldn't David have had the chance to confront his family (particularly his jealous brother) with the knowledge he gained from his quest? I mean, that is the point, ins't it? A hero learns something mere mortals don't, then return to make life better for norms. The leftover brotherly angst was more distressing than anything.
5.) "Unity of plot." Yeah, there were like three different stories going on here, and I think I like the cynical, existentially burdened one better than the over-the-top, deus-ex-machina, We're-a-superior-being-so-step-back-enjoy-the-light-show-while-we-solve-everything, Speilberg-esque ending (Don't get me wrong: it worked in ET and Close Encounters and even in The Color Purple after a fashion, but not here).
Darn. And the first twenty minutes were so great.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 5, 2012 8:15 PM PST

The Visitant - Book One of the Anasazi Mysteries
The Visitant - Book One of the Anasazi Mysteries
by Kathleen O'Neal Gear
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
195 used & new from $0.01

12 of 17 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Yes.. and no..., February 12, 2002
The Visitant is actually two stories in one... one of which is fascinating, the other of which needs serious reworking. Picture it: New Mexico, 1256 AD in the Anasazi Talon Town, a series of murders has taken place that defy rational explanation. Switch to 800 years later, same place, different characters; a team of archaeologists and anthropologists discover the remains of Talon Town and its burial site of the muder victims. Or are they the remains of the murderers?
The stories are interwoven, but I really really found the "now" story to be tedious and underwrought. If the authors weren't belaboring how much the main character hates women, and if they didn't say how much his female-foil hated him (and don't you just KNOW they're gonna get together by Book Three...), and if they didn't get caught up in inane campfire chat about farts, I may have been more impressed.
But, they didn't and I wasn't.
The Anasazi story is well-written and while the primative "psychology" is a bit of a stretch, it is fascinating nonetheless. My only problem is that the murders are never truly resolved. A muderer is found, yes, but there is no clear explanation of their motives, their state of mind, their... anything. There's lots of build up, with no follow through. I know there's supposed to be two more books, but the books ends with the feeling that this is a stand-alone book, but as such it is unsatisfying.. moreso because important issues are never resolved, but there is no .. "bridge" at which the next book can connect.
I left this book feeling disappointed and somewhat confused. Yes, I'll read the next book but only because I want to know what becomes of the Anasazi Tribes. I'm just gonna skip over those anthropolgist/relic hunter people.. they're just icky.

DVD ~ Christopher Lloyd
Price: $5.82
15 used & new from $3.97

5.0 out of 5 stars I laughed, I cried..., January 24, 2002
This review is from: Wit (DVD)
I love Emma Thompson. She is a goddess in every movie she has ever done, and this one is no exception.
Bring tissues and something dear to hold on to (blanket, pet, significant other, stuffed animal, etc.).

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