Posts Tagged 'sherlock holmes'

A Couple of Great Films

I had, in the last week, the delightful opportunity to see two wonderful, awe-inspiring movies. I’m sure you’ve heard of them.

First, I saw Avatar with my wife and brothers.

Avatar Movie Poster

Avatar

This movie was nothing short of magnificent. I did see the film in 3D, and aside from a few small gripes I have with today’s 3D film showing technology, the 3D added more than just another dimension to the movie.

What made this movie outstanding for me can be illustrated in just two solid points.

First, I went in to the movie knowing full well that the plot was essentially ripped off from Pocahontas (though I don’t believe Cameron did it on purpose), and still James Cameron’s storytelling kept me engaged and entertained to the end. If you can go into a movie knowing how it ends and what will happen around every turn, and still enjoy it thoroughly, then it is a good movie.

Second, as someone who loves movie special effects, I am familiar with a tendency in Hollywood to allow the special effects to steal the show. Many a good movie has been nearly or entirely ruined because the effects were too good for the viewer to allow them to fade into the background of the story. In Avatar, the effects perfectly faded into their rightful place as a storytelling mechanism. They were nearly perfect in every way (and where they did not excel, they receded even further into the back of the viewer’s mind).

I had no problem believing that the world of Pandora was a very real place to the characters I saw on screen, and at no time did I feel like I was experiencing another Jar-Jar-esque CGI character while watching the Na’vi. For some, the world was not only real and beautiful, but it was so much better and alluring than Earth, that they are dying to visit.

After such an epic movie (and “epic” is my favorite word to describe Avatar), I was hesitant to watch anything else for a while.

Later the same week, though, my wife and I went on a date to see Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes Movie Poster

Sherlock Holmes

This Sherlock Holmes installment was the most beautifully rendered of any I have ever seen. As a huge fan of the stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, I have always been looking for a suitable film adaptation of his original characters. Unfortunately, most of the previous Holmes films I had seen had failed miserably.

Shortly after watching this new Sherlock Holmes movie, I was in a rental store and saw the cover of a Sherlock Holmes movie I had never heard of: Murder By Decree.

Murder By Decree Poster

Murder By Decree

On the cover you can see that someone once considered it the “Best Sherlock Holmes Movie Ever Made.” That statement is attributed to Rex Reed, of the New York Daily News. The movie was released early in 1979, just over thirty years prior to the newest movie staring the master sleuth. The cover certainly makes the movie look quite appealing, and it currently resides at the top of my Netflix queue. I will then report on if that film remains the “best Sherlock Holmes movie ever made.”

As for my current belief, Robert Downey Jr. played Sherlock Holmes better than any man before him, and Jude Law made a singularly perfect Dr. Watson companion to him. The two played very nicely together, and the depiction of their characters was precisely as I had envisioned it during my reading of the stories. For me, Sherlock Holmes staring Robert Downey Jr. will always be the definitive Sherlock Holmes movie.

Finally, before I let you go, I have to apologize for getting ahead of myself earlier. I rushed to offer my new book (Facebook Drives Me Nuts) for sale before it was ready. So, the first edition, which nobody bought, is immediately discontinued, and the second edition, which is currently undergoing review, will be offered for sale before the end of the month (if all goes well). I am thinking of sending out a few signed copies to my closest friends and family, in hopes that they will read the book and spread the word. Of course, if they don’t like the book, such an act could backfire on me most horrendously. I shall have to proceed with caution.

Watch for an announcement here followed by copious amounts of self promotion through all of my available channels once the book is approved for sale.

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Favorite Superheroes

In an effort to distract myself from all things stressful and real, I decided to dedicate my writing hour to honoring the greatest men in faux-history, as far as I see it. What follows is an exploration of a few of my most favorite superheroes. Among them there are three that got their start in the comic books, and one that didn’t (as far as I know).

First up is the man who has always been at the top of my list. I think the greatest appeal any of these heroes has with me is that they are ordinary guys. None of them has a super power that separates them from me by a super-margin like the one between me and Superman. The only thing that keeps me from actually being any of these heroes is money, and in some cases technology that hasn’t yet been developed.

Again, first up is one I have had at the top of the list since as long as I can remember. Batman. Rich, secretive, loves technology and gadgets, and is a smart crime-solving detective. That’s me in a nutshell… Well, if I had it my way, that is. Sure, a lot of the toys and gadgets he uses are a little out of reach (for now), but it’s nice to dream.

I’m especially in love with the Tumbler, his Batmobile in Batman Begins and The Dark Night. Sometimes, when I’m driving around in my car, I imagine that I’m in the Tumbler.

Even better than having to drive in the first place would be flying, and my next two super heroes can do just that (without mystical powers).

Next, then, is Iron Man. Batman’s resourcefulness comes from his gadgetry first, then from his costume. Iron Man is the costume. No gadgets here (which does make me a little sad, since I love gadgets), just pure awesomeness in the form of an exoskeleton suit and some pretty impressive computer programming, both of which I love.

I’ve always been into robotics, and exoskeleton research is a big spin off/byproduct/sister project of robotics. With the recent release of the Iron Man movie, many people have been talking about the technology behind such a suit.

Oh, if you haven’t seen the movies I’m talking about, you really should. They’re all excellent films.

Since I saw the Iron Man movie, I’ve been wondering what it would be like if you combined the two heroes, Batman and Iron Man, into one really cool hero. I’ve decided that, while it might be overkill, it would be pretty cool.

For the final of my comic-book-based heroes, I give you an older one: The Rocketeer. This one goes way back to my childhood. In fact, I’d venture to say that I wanted to be the Rocketeer before I wanted to be Batman (but I’m not sure because it’s a close call).

Though not as technologically advanced, the Rocketeer does have something we’re still working on – a jet pack. Even without an exoskeleton or a bunch of gadgets, having a jet pack would be awesome.

I think the Rocketeer must have made a great comic too, because he really is just an ordinary guy with one thing that sets him apart from the rest of us, that cool rocket pack. Other than that, he’s not a super genius, he’s doesn’t have a ton of money to buy whatever technology or gadgets he wants, and more of us can identify with him for it.

The movie is still one of my favorites, and it never gets old (right up there with Short Circuit , but we’ll talk about robots another time).

As you may have noticed, we’re working our way down from most gadgets to the least, but we’ve covered varied amounts of technological integration. My final hero is just a man with a bunch of gadgets, but he’s got so many other qualities I love that I had to add him to my list.

I suppose he’s really not considered a “superhero” by most, but James Bond has always been a favorite of mine. I especially loved the portrayal of him in the recent film Casino Royale.

Though I wouldn’t ever want to be the womanizer that he is, I admire just about everything else in the character. I especially love his resourcefulness, intelligence and wit. Plus, he always dresses pretty sharp, which is great.

You know what’s funny? As I’ve written this, my list of heroes has been growing. So far, I’ve realized that a list of my favorite heroes in fiction would never be complete without Sherlock Holmes. It was his work (well, the writings of Sir Aurthur Conan Doyle) that helped me realize how much I love using my mind to solve problems and analyze the people and world around me. When it comes to awesomeness, you would be pressed to find a better man than Jason Bourne from the Bourne series of books and movies. Though I don’t actually know much about him, there is one more comic book character that I was a big fan of when I was young. Dick Tracy. I think the main reason I loved him was for his video phone watch. Anyhow, that just illustrates my deep love for gadgets.

No matter how many fictional heroes I may want to be like, there is one real guy (well, two) who I’ve actually met and I model my life after him (them) every day. I say two because the first, obviously, is my father. I don’t just say that because it’s what everyone says. My dad is a true hero and someone that more than just his children can look up to for a great example of how to live. The second is someone I served with for just over a year and a half, but in that short time he helped me more than any one person aside from my parents. He was my mission president in Mexico, President Alonso.

I love and look up to both of them, but I really want to be like the fictional characters here because it would be fun.


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