Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy Holidays!

I don't think I will be able to post again until after Christmas, so I would like to take this opportunity to greet all of you. Dear readers, Merry Christmas! I send you and your families my love and warm wishes for the Yuletide. I love you all! God bless. :)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

His Dark Materials

Warning: spoiler spoiler spoiler

Very, very early yesterday morning I finally came to the conclusion of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. I am stunned, sad, and haunted. I have already given several of my comments on book one: The Golden Compass. My favorite part of the series is book two: The Subtle Knife. The Subtle Knife took the story to greater heights by putting it on an epic scale and showing just how delightfully complex the story is. It was also a disconcerting novel because the anti-organized religion theme was much more apparent. The novel did not just explore the corruption and hypocrisy in the Christian religion - it also posed doubts about the nature and origin of God. As a Christian I squirmed at some parts of The Subtle Knife. But I believe in mutual respect and tolerance. I expect other people to respect my spiritual beliefs - and I respect other people's spiritual beliefs. There was a point where I couldn't help laughing inside at all the fuss over His Dark Materials because many people label it "atheism for kids." If your faith - whatever it may be - is strong, it will not be shaken by a book or a movie. I truly believe that only a real-lfe experience opens the possibility of shaking a strong faith. But then again, His Dark Materials is supposed to be for young readers, and young readers are very impressionable... Here's the bottomline for me: I am a Christian, and I think His Dark Materials is a good series. These are good books for many reasons, but I do not love them. And yes, if I were a mother - and I would be a Christian mother - I would allow my children to read these books, but I would make sure to discuss the ideas in the book with my children. The series definitely raises questions about the universe, the meaning of life, and the afterlife, and makes one ponder about God, angels, and good and evil.

The Subtle Knife is my favorite in the series because it is the book that makes the story so rich. It is also my favorite because it gave us Will. Did I say in an earlier post that Lyra is magnetic? I take that back. Lyra is great. I love her because she has so much spunk. I love how she does what she wants and doesn't really care what other people think. I love how she always questions authority. But Will is the magnetic one. He is young, but already so strong and even powerful. He is so good to his mother and such a good boy overall, but not a goody-goody. He is interesting, reliable/dependable, and responsible. Will is my favorite male character out of all the books I have ever read. (As many of you already know, Lucy from the Chronicles of Narnia is my favorite female character out of all the books I have ever read.)

I can see myself happily re-reading the great adventure that is The Golden Compass (it is one action scene after another) and happily re-reading The Subtle Knife. But I found I had to force myself to finish my first reading of The Amber Spyglass. I didn't find it as exciting as The Golden Compass and I didn't find it as compelling as The Subtle Knife - those two books really pulled me in and I was always resentful whenever I had to put them down to do other things like sleep or work.

I do like the parts in The Amber Spyglass about Dr. Mary Malone and the mulefa. The mulefa seemed like such kind, gracious, and sweet people. Their world and their lives seemed so simple and beautiful. I especially like how the mulefa would groom each other out of pure sociability. Mary would clean her friend Atal's claws and wheels while Atal would massage Mary's scalp and play with Mary's hair. I always secretly wish that someone would play with my hair out of pure sociability. :D

I was astonished by the turn around of Mrs. Coulter. She really is one of the most complicated and dynamic characters in fiction. I was truly taken aback and pleased (even touched) when Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter stopped being so selfish and sacrificed their lives to make sure their daughter Lyra would be safe and live a long and full life.

The ideas behind the Magisterium, the Kingdon, the Authority, Dust, the many universes, and the Republic of Heaven were so grand. And because the story and its themes are so grand several important things in The Amber Spyglass seemed weak: the worlds decaying because Dust was leaking out of the windows made by the subtle knife; a Specter being born every time the knife makes a window; less Dust flowing out of the mulefa's world just because Will and Lyra fell in love. Lame lame lame! I am not satisfied with the tying up of loose ends, and I feel some questions were left unanswered.

I cried when Will and Lyra had to separate so soon after they realized they were in love. :( (They realized it towards the end of The Amber Spyglass, but readers can already perceive that love in the middle of The Subtle Knife.) They decide to be on the same bench in Oxford's Botanic Garden, noon, on Midsummer Day every year - Lyra in her world and Will in his. That is the closest they can be with each other. :( Reading Lyra's cry to do that "as long as I live, as long as I live" really tore at my heart. :(

His Dark Materials is a stunning narrative with a melancholy finale and a beautiful story of young love that haunts me.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Chronicles of Narnia

Aaahhh! I just saw the trailer for the film adaptation of Prince Caspian. Aaahhh! I love Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media. Aaahhh! The Chronicles of Narnia are my favorite books and the trailer for Prince Caspian gave me goosebumps!


The best parts of the movie were the scenes with Nicole Kidman. She was amazing as Mrs. Coulter. :o)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A second look at the Golden Compass movie

Sunday afternoon I watched the Golden Compass again. The second viewing simply confirmed my initial opinion of the movie. The production design and special effects were great. Though the action scenes were not exciting enough. The casting and acting were inspired. However, there were problems with plot development. The parallel universes, intercision, and Dust were supposed to be revelations. (Well, they were in the book.) The characters and audience learning about the parallel universes, intercision, and Dust shouldn't have been rushed through forced and corny dialogue. The narrative flow was discordant. Viewers who have not read the book will find the story confusing. Wah, all that wasted potential! :o(

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Golden Compass

Of course the book is better than the movie.

The book: I enjoyed reading Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass (book one of His Dark Materials). It's a compelling fantasy adventure. The action scenes in the novel held me rapt. The characters were so likeable - especially the fierce and magnetic Lyra. (How much do I like Lyra? I want to name one of my future daughters "Lyra"!) And I love love love the dear relationship between a human and his/her daemon. (I want a daemon of my own!!!)

The movie: It's always a treat to see a book come alive on the big screen. And we can always count on New Line Cinema to offer a visual feast. The casting was brilliant. Nicole Kidman as Mrs. Coulter, Daniel Craig as Lord Asriel, Dakota Blue Richards as Lyra, Eva Green as Serafina Pekkala, Sam Elliott as Lee Scoresby, Ian McKellen as the voice of Iorek Byrnison, and Kathy Bates as the voice of Hester = WOW. But the bottom line is, I am disappointed by the film adaptation of The Golden Compass. I guess it's just impossible to cram the richness and complexity of the story into a short movie. They tried to. But they failed miserably. The unfolding of the plot in the movie was so awkward and uninspiring. I don't think viewers who haven't read the novel will appreciate the genius of the story. Also, with daemons being so important in the universe of His Dark Materials, daemons and their wonderful relationships with their humans should have had more "screen time."

I'm watching the movie again though - for the exciting action scene at the end and for the great acting. And there is always hope: the second and third movies (for The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass) will probably be much better. :)

Monday, December 03, 2007

Ugh. Right after the season of thanksgiving I started feeling depressed. I think I have my annual holiday blues. :( I know there are so many things to be grateful for, but so many things have been depressing me lately. So that's my update: I'm depressed. I'm worried about some things at work. I'm disappointed that I probably won't get to visit my mom's hometown (General Santos City) over the holidays. (I was so looking forward to spending Christmas with my grandmother, older brothers, and cousins! I was looking forward to being far away from Metro Manila.) And lately I haven't been getting enough time for FUN.