Sunday, June 30, 2013

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

I love fairy tales.

I love classic fairy tales. In particular, though I mean no disrespect to Hans Christian Anderson, I have a special affection for the tales of the Brothers Grimm. Seriously, how can you not love their name? It's like a promise of truth in advertising, at least until the stories get homogenized and made into something safer for children. "Safer," by the way, means clean of potential nightmares. Sorry I tend to think nightmares serve a purpose and so do fairy tales. Like fables, the best of them offer lessons and warnings. Mind you, sometimes the warning can be a little vague: In the case of Hansel & Gretel it's either a warning not to take candy from strangers or just possibly not to let your dad marry a woman who thinks killing kids is a good way to go about avoiding being too hungry.

That said, I took one look at the trailer for Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and chuckled. (And if you follow the link it's for the Red Band version of the trailer. That means language and violence not appropriate for children. Seriously.)  My sister, a bit of a purist, did not agree. That's okay. I prefer people have their own minds and opinions. Listen, if you expect anything remotely like the original story, don't waste your time. There have been other versions that were far more true to the source material. What I wanted, what I got, was something entirely different. I wanted what the trailer offered: a tongue-in-cheel action adventure flick with creepy witches, a grown up set of siblings with a passion for killing those very witches and a hefty arsenal of steampunk inspired weapons to help them meet their goals.

Anyone whose read one of my reviews knows I hate giving away the important stuff. The surprises are for the people who see the movie, not for me to ruin in advance. That's why there are spoiler alerts and that's why I attempt to offer spoiler free commentaries. I will tell you this much: The original tale of Hansel and Gretel is taken care of in roughly the first three minutes of the movie, and I loved to watch it.

And from there the story gets more fun. It's over the top. No two ways about that. The laws of physics are not merely dented, they are warped into new shapes. That's okay, I didn't care. If I want reality, I'll catch a drama. This is a fusion of fairy tales, steampunk, comedy, horror and extreme action. It may not be high brow art, but damn I did enjoy it. I watched the unrated version on blu-ray. It has excessive language (multiple f-bombs), excessive gore, excessive and delightful violence and copious quantities of fun, in addition to witches, trolls, and my first ever encounter with Steampunk Brass Knuckles.

Highly recommended for a night of reckless, violent fun with a surprisingly good story. Also, Gemma Arterton is just darned sexy-cute and Jeremy Renner is a delight, too. And Famke Jansen as a witch? Wow.

Jim




Monday, June 24, 2013

Another of the Grand Masters has left us: Rest In Peace Richard Matheson.

Well, damn.

Richard Matheson was decidedly one of the Grand Masters. I'd put him in the same category as Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov without hesitation. Over his lifetime he worked in fiction, television and movies and his influence was bloody near everywhere.

What Dreams May Come, The Shrinking Man, A Stir of Echoes (A book I've read easily a dozen times), I Am Legend, Bid Time Return. He wrote the screenplay for THE NIGHT STALKER, upon which the series Kolchak: The Night Stalker was based. He wrote multiple episodes for THE TWILIGHT ZONE, Worked on STAR TREK the original series, THE NIGHT GALLER, and wrote the script for a TV movie called DUEL, that was directed by a young director, just starting out, named Stephen Spielberg.

He was a truly amazing writer of the fantastic and I will always remember his works fondly. He will be missed.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Dark Duets

As a few people might have figured out already, I really kind of dig collaborations. They add a new dimension to working on a project and if you're working with the right person, they are just plain a lot of fun. I ahve been very, very lucky when it comes to the people I've collaborated with, and this is absolutely no exception. 

So, Christopher Golden came up with a delightfully warped notion: take authors that he knows and likes and ask them to work with OTHER authors that he knows and likes, with one proviso: They could never have worked with that other author before. This is the end result:





I am delighted to work with Nate Kenyon on a story. Nate was a wonderful to work with and came up with a truly fun story idea that was great to explore. I am equally delighted to be in a book with all of the following people, because, wow, that's a lot of talent. 

 Table of Contents:

DARK DUETS: New Tales of Horror and Dark Fantasy will be published in January, 2014 by Harper Voyager. Edited by Christopher Golden, it features an extraordinary lineup of collaborative stories, with the authors of each story collaborating for the very first time. And here they are!
TRIP TRAP -- by Sherrilyn Kenyon & Kevin J. Anderson
WELDED -- by Tom Piccirilli & T.M. Wright
DARK WITNESS -- by Charlaine Harris & Rachel Caine
REPLACING MAX -- by Stuart MacBride & Allan Guthrie
T. RHYMER -- by Gregory Frost & Jonathan Maberry
SHE, DOOMED GIRL -- by Sarah MacLean & Carrie Ryan
HAND JOB -- by Chelsea Cain & Lidia Yuknavitch
HOLLOW CHOICES -- by Robert Jackson Bennett & David Liss
AMUSE-BOUCHE -- by Amber Benson & Jeffrey J. Mariotte
BRANCHES, CURVING -- by Tim Lebbon & Michael Marshall Smith
RENASCENCE – by Rhodi Hawk and F. Paul Wilson
BLIND LOVE -- by Kasey Lansdale & Joe R. Lansdale
TRAPPER BOY -- by Holly Newstein & Rick Hautala
STEWARD OF THE BLOOD -- by Nate Kenyon & James A. Moore
CALCULATING ROUTE -- by Michael Koryta & Jeffrey David Greene
SISTERS BEFORE MISTERS -- by Sarah Rees Brennan, Cassandra Clare, and
Holly Black
SINS LIKE SCARLET -- by Mark Morris & Rio Youers