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Allen Adams

Allen Adams

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Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:49

Dr. Seuss saves the Earth The Lorax'

Animated film offers laughs, environmental themes

The works of Dr. Seuss have been adapted to the big screen many times over the years with mixed results. For whatever reason, some of his stories translate well to film while others simply do not. However, his canon is so universally beloved that the movies just keep on coming.

The latest attempt is 'The Lorax,' from the same team that did 2010's excellent 'Despicable Me.' Chris Renaud and Ken Daurio are certainly talented, and there are some great moments here, but the movie never seems to quite live up to its potential.

The film tells the story of Ted (Zac Efron, 'New Year's Eve'), a 12-year-old boy who lives in the town of Thneedville. Thneedville is a town where nothing natural grows, everything is made out of metal and plastic and the air they breathe is sold to them by the tiny and tyrannical Mr. O'Hare (Rob Riggle, 'Big Miracle'). Ted is smitten with neighbor Audrey (Taylor Swift, 'Valentine's Day'), who tells him about her desire to see a real tree.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:40

Project X' deserves an F'

Party movie not much fun

Sometimes, a movie comes along that looks just terrible. You see the trailers and read the advance coverage and you think to yourself 'Man, what a steaming pile that movie is going to be.' Of course, you're still kind of titillated by the idea of going to see this awful, awful movie. Sometimes it's fun to see something you know is going to be bad.

But sometimes you get a movie that's beyond bad, a movie that is exponentially worse than even the terrible trailers ever indicated.

Sometimes you get 'Project X.'

Multi-generational novel both epic and intimate

The power of family is a constantly explored theme in the literary world. Telling stories that span generations has long been a favorite undertaking for novelists great and small; Maine resident Peter Behrens is one of those who falls more into the former category. His latest offering is 'The O'Briens' (Pantheon; $25.95), a story that springs from but is no way reliant on his previous work 'The Law of Dreams.'

Our book begins with the O'Brien family struggling their way through a hardscrabble existence in the wilds of western Quebec right around the turn of the 20th century. We watch as young Joe O'Brien comes of age the hard way, slowly and steadily building himself an entrepreneurial empire.

Of course, life is about more than just monetary success. We also watch as Joe builds a family of his own, a family he swears will never have to endure the same hardships that dominated his own youth. However, life is rarely as easy as we feel it should be, and Joe and his family are confronted with an entirely new set of obstacles to their happiness different, yes, but no less difficult because of that.

Thursday, 08 March 2012 11:01

Fated' a fine urban fantasy

Urban fantasy is a genre whose star has been on the rise over the past decade or so. More and more authors are trying their hand at bringing the magic of sword-and-sorcery to a modern cityscape. Some are successful, but many more are not it's hard to write urban fantasy without coming off as derivative or clichd. I've read a lot of mediocre stuff over the years.

That's why it's exciting when a new book arrives that seems to have potential. 'Fated' (ACE, $7.99), the first book in a new series by Benedict Jacka, is one of those books.

It's modern-day London, just like ours save one small detail there is magic among us. Alex Verus is a diviner; a mage who can see the future. He operates a magic shop in London and not the card-trick, rabbit-hat kind of magic. He's also a bit of a pariah among the magical elite due to some unpleasantness in the past, so he tries his best to just keep his head down and stay out of magic's way.

I was lucky enough to have a seat in the building as World Wrestling Entertainment made its triumphant return to the Bangor Auditorium on March 4. While I freely admit that I'm not a huge fan of professional wrestling, there's no mistaking the very real energy of the moment when it all unfolds in front of you live and in person.

This was a big show; even a relative neophyte such as I could recognize some of these names. John Cena. Chris Jericho. Kane. WWE Champion CM Punk. These are some of the brightest stars in the WWE galaxy and they were right here in Bangor.

The night's matches all had their winners and losers, but the particulars didn't really matter. It's all about experiencing the spectacle, and even if you aren't a follower of wrestling, you can't help but be swept up in the unapologetic passion of the true fanatics. 

Thursday, 01 March 2012 09:15

Celebrity Slam - Feb. 29, 2012

Young and crazy

We see a lot of faded stars in this space. It's easy to understand why; it must be hard to have stood at the top of the mountain, only to wind up crashing back down to Earth with the rest of us normies. However, there are always a few washed-up celebrities who take their fall from grace to a truly crazy place.

Step right up, Sean Young.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 13:01

Communal comedy with Wanderlust'

Comedy offers great performances, plenty of laughs

Screen chemistry is a tricky thing. In any sort of cinematic relationship - especially a romantic one - your leads have to have the proper dynamic between them. They are the foundation from which the rest of the movie builds; without a strong, engaging relationship in that spot, everything else falls apart.

And just because the actors involved are charismatically gifted individually does not mean that their on-screen pairing is going to work. It's all about the mixture.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 12:49

Shouldn't have Gone'

Mediocre thriller has nothing to offer

Winter is a good time for a thriller. It's cold and dark outside, and we're maybe just a little more predisposed toward the danger by proxy of the genre. Well if it's a good one. If it's a bad one, the only thrill will come when the credits finally roll.

'Gone' resides firmly in the latter category.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 12:40

Walking the Critical Path'

New book offers advice to budding video game journalists
The bookshelves of the world - virtual and real-world alike - are packed with 'how-to' books. There are books out there that will purportedly teach you just about anything that you want to know. However, not all of these books will actually prove helpful. It all boils down to the knowledge and skills possessed by the author.

Which brings us to the new book 'Critical Path: How to Review Video Games for a Living' by Dan Amrich, available at Amazon and assorted outlets. Amrich is one of the most respected game reviewers in the business, having worked in just about every possible capacity in game journalism. From freelancer to executive editor and everything in between, Amrich has done it all.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 09:42

Celebrity Slam - Feb. 22, 2012

Hating Chris Brown: A Primer

When it first hit the scene, Twitter struck me as kind of pointless, but innocuous. How much could someone really say in 140 characters? How much trouble could they possibly get themselves into?

Obviously, I was nave. People - especially famous people - can't get enough of broadcasting themselves and their thoughts. However, with the instant gratification of something like Twitter, it was only a matter of time before the filters began to fail. Poorly thought out (and spelled) tweets from celebrities have become part of the pop culture zeitgeist. But, as with everything involving the famous, there's always someone who's going to take it next level.

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