Saturday, December 27, 2008

Review: Force Unleashed & The Dark Knight

Force Unleashed (somewhere else) the book

During the annual video game get together, Saturday after Thanksgiving, I watched some of this video game being played. The graphics are awesome and it looked like you could do a decent amount of stuff as the character. While at the library a few weeks ago, I picked up this book, plus Revenge of the Sith, to read. Force Unleashed takes place between RofT and A New Hope.

I read through Revenge first. Vey had suggested giving it a look, so when I saw it on the shelf, I picked it up. I honestly didn't expect it to be much. The "new" trilogy comes across as very stiff and plot point driven. I didn't feel compelled to like any of the characters, even though I enjoy watching several of the actors. What I discovered about Revenge is that if I tune out the stiff acting and horrible dialogue from the movie, it's a really good story. The author wove in more than the movie did and I actually began to pity Anakin. I felt sorry for Padme, being pregnant and married to a guy who can't seem to really grow up. By the end of the movie, I finally understood what the story should have been, a classic tragedy with Anakin at the heart of it.

With that, I picked up Force Unleashed and dove in head first. Sadly, this book is nowhere near as good as Revenge. Granted, it's based on a video game. I was willing to look beyond that and try to enjoy it, nonetheless. Unfortunately, I couldn't finish this one fast enough. The action sequences from the video game read horribly. The character development is as shallow and stinted as it would be in a video game. There's no real big payoff feeling like there would be from beating a video game. And the video game's story and how it plays into the Star Wars metaplot? meh. Interesting idea, but meh. If you want to experience Force Unleashed, play the video game and skip this book.

Anyone wanting the plot elements that fit into the mythos, let me know and I'll post spoilers.

The Dark Knight
potential for spoilers ahead

I got this one as a Christmas gift. I've only watched it once, so I'm sure I've missed things. It's a very good follow up to Batman Begins. The development of Gordan and Batman's relationship is good. The inclusion of Dent was nice. I would have liked a full movie of him as Dent before the creation of Two Face. Ledger was good as the Joker.

I was surprised at the direction they went with the Joker's personality. He came across as the quiet guy, who finally snaps, instead of the cRAzY mAn I often expect him to be. You know, closer to the '60s tv show version. The portrayal as a quiet, more subdued personality, perhaps more unsecure?, was a great turn and for some reason, a little easier to relate to. This is not to say there was no over the top insanity from Joker, there was. However, there was not a lot of cackling "ha-ha-ha-ha"s. I could have used a few more. Joker definetly upped the ante on what he was willing to do for his cause. That was nice. It wasn't just some random kill people here, blow that building up there. The character was well thought out. There was still some comic book pastiche, but that's to be expected.

I didn't care for the ending with Batman and Gordan's interactions and Batman taking the heat. It felt very forced and just didn't jive with the rest of the movie. I felt it could have been left out. I understand the need to have him outside the law and on the run. After all, we can't have people rooting for a vigilante, now can we?

I wouldn't be surprised in the next movie if they include Gordan's wife moving back to Chicago as part of the plot. They set it up this time, with Two Face's actions.

If you liked Batman Begins, you'll like most of this movie.


Jim McClain said...

D, nice post. I've not read any of the Star Wars books.

I agree with you on Dark Knight, though one little problem. The Batman TV show was in the 60s, not the 70s.

I enjoy your writing. Post more often!

Big D said...

Thanks, Jim. I fixed the date on the tv show. I didn't realize it was that old. Then again, many of the shows from those two decades bleed together for me.

Many of the SW books are crap. There are so many different authors that it's impossible to tell who will like what amongst my friends. I've enjoyed most of the books that were written before the new trilogy. I think that may be due to the lack of details that existed back then. We had the original movies, the newspaper comic strips (which I've never read), the Christmas and Muppets specials, and the Marvel comis (of which I owned 95% at one point).

Anyways, thanks for reading If I come up with more to post, I will!