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Pirates Of The Caribbean, On Stranger Tides: A Review

As I’ve already said on my blog recently, I am a big fan of these types of films and books. There is something I’ve always liked about adventures at sea.

I went to see On Stranger Tides the day it came out here in the UK.

The first thing I was struck by, as I sat watching, was the lack of slapstick gags in comparison to the second or third film. I actually thought this would be a good thing, but I have to admit, it wasn’t. There was something lacking in Jack Sparrow because of it. Like the new writer hadn’t quite managed to get his head around Jack the same way the old writer had. It was almost like they obeyed the many fans of the first, saying the second and the third were too silly and not serious enough. That alone wouldn’t have been too bad.

The first Pirates film got the balance right between a serious plot and Jack’s rather special outlook on everything. Unfortunately they went too far and took out the very essence of Jack. There were no really special Jack Sparrow escape plans or one liners. Not only was the slapstick gone but the special mad Jack moments were as well, at least until right at the end. There was one final line that was quite Jack. Nothing really quotable though, unlike the previous three.

In every other respect the film wasn’t too bad. The plot was pretty good. Typical pirates type plot. One really bad pirate that all the other pirates have to stop and some fun, who’s side are you on anyway, moments. It was a little predictable in places but that’s fairly inevitable with the 4th in a series. You just get to know the characters well enough by that point to predict them.

Ian McShane made a very good Blackbeard and you could hardly tell it was Lovejoy under all that makeup and wig. So this for me was a plus. He’s definitely improving as an actor. Though still not perfect.

With Jack being not quite Jack, however, my favourite character ended up being the missionary that was on Blackbeard’s ship. He was there as the only survivor of a ship and crew Blackbeard had attacked because his first mate wanted Blackbeard to be redeemed and have his soul saved from hell. A rather interesting premise from a pirates first mate. It did mean there were a few really good chances for the Christian aspect to shine through, as they actually did a fairly good job of portraying a Christian’s beliefs.

And without giving spoilers that’s probably all I can say. I have to admit I came out feeling a little unsatisfied. It was better than the 2nd and 3rd pirates but still not quite as good as the first. I’m hoping it’s a film I will like more on a second viewing though. I imagine with it being based on a book there is some more subtle stuff to be gleaned from the plot and characters. I also will still go see any more they make at the cinema as they did set it up for potentially a more Jack mad sequel. Maybe they can get the balance right for the next one. They are obviously trying to.

As Sure As The Dawn: A Review

As Sure As The Dawn is the third and final book in the Mark Of The Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.

The third book follows one of the more minor characters from the first two parts. Atretes, the German from the Chatti tribe who was taken from his village and forced to be a gladiator, is the main character with the Christian widow, Rizpah as his love interest. It starts off in Ephesus, not long after Atretes has finally won his freedom. Atretes and Rizpah intitally do not like each other very much but they have a common bond, which eventually soothes their relationship, in the form of Atretes son, Caleb. Rizpah is employed as his wet nurse.

They then set out on the very long journey from Ephesus, to Germany and the Chatti tribe. Both characters have a very different approach to travelling and they clash frequently. This often results in Atretes getting the whole family into some kind of danger and then having to be rescued from it by one of the other Christians in the travelling group. Both characters are quite hot tempered and stubborn and it causes many interesting moments for them both.

As it is usually with Francine Rivers, the locations were very accurately and stunningly described and all her research was very well done. I also found these characters even easier to relate to, especially Rizpah. There was something about the way she thought, felt and her reaction to Atrete’s temper that I could understand. I may have had something in common with her stubbornness too, just maybe.

For me the magic was very much in the ending of this book though. It was very well written with plenty of unexpected but fitting twists and turns. I gobbled the book up very late one evening and couldn’t go to sleep until I had finished it.

Definitely a 5 out of 5 stars for this one.

 

An Echo In The Darkness: A Review

An Echo In The Darkness is the second book in the Mark Of The Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.

This book continues to explore the characters in the first book, picking up where the previous book left off, almost to the exact second. There are a few more characters introduced but mostly it follows all the well established characters from the first (The ones that haven’t died already anyway).

In this second book there is a distinct emphasis on the characters finally realising their flaws and doing something to sort them out. Marcus and Julia are impacted by this especially and it’s incredibly easy to emphathise with them as they try to figure out what is the right way to do things and get themselves into some more scrapes and messes along the way.

I was pleased to find in this second book the references to God were again a little more natural and in keeping with the plot as it ran forward. It also had a much better ending if a little unsatisfying in some ways it tied up the loose ends. It did leave me wondering what the third book would actually be about, however, as 95% of the characters now had their happy ever after.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5

An Artist’s Call

I was listening to the soundtrack for the second Narnia film recently and hit the credit song, The Call by Regina Spektor and found the words inspired me to write some poetry. I thought I’d share what came out of it.

 

An artists call

A gentle whisper close to my ear,
Lets me know that God is near,
And as my soul begins to fly,
That familiar feel takes me away up high.

That feeling then grows and before too long,
A hope of change moves me along,
Though frightened if the truth be told.
I cannot refuse when an artist is called.

The excitement builds, bringing tears,
Giving no choice but to abandon fears.
With fears gone, the quiet is unnerving,
Then a lioness comes, courage unswerving.

Though hardly any more time has passed,
Now a vision, as fragile as glass,
And then I’m flying on wings of gold.
I cannot refuse when an artist is called.

In no time at all a desire to fly,
Has become a roar, a battle cry,
Though alone I may miss my goal,
With God and friends I cannot fall.

A battle to win and territory taken,
With my faith I cannot be shaken,
I have been summoned, I have been told.
I cannot refuse when an artist is called.

Though I may fail before I begin,
To my new found vision I will cling,
And in blackness darker than night,
I will reach for Him, eternal light.

To others I may appear strange,
Odd, unfocused, even deranged,
But this is my purpose, why I was made.
I cannot refuse when an artist is called.

Though all I may have is only a feeling,
It will become more, now’s just a beginning,
And although it is hard to understand,
I have a battle, a sword in my hand.

I am an artist, all of God’s styling,
Only He can define me, and my calling,
No apology for me, you have been warned.
I will not refuse when I am called.

A Voice In The Wind: A Review

A voice in the wind is the first book in the Mark of the Lion trilogy by Francine Rivers.

The books are set in the Roman empire in approximately 70AD and the first book mostly follows the life of a Christian girl called Hadassah as her family are killed and most of Jerusalem is destroyed. It then follows her journey as a slave to the Roman Valerian family and her struggles as a Christian in their very self centered lives.

For the most part I enjoyed this book. It’s a very endearing journey to see Hadassah learn to love others and find her place despite the tumultus beginning to her life. I also found I couldn’t help feeling her respect and love for the older children in the Valerian family, Julia and Marcus, despite their large flaws.

Francine Rivers is very good at painting her characters in a very real light making them easily relatable to. Although many of the characters have a very obvious flaw or two I was impressed with how they dealt with them and how everyone managed to grow somewhat by the end of the book.

I did find the plotting a little slow, with the odd over zealous reference to God and scripture, almost as if it was a little forced in. I think it got better as the book went on, however, as the situations the characters faced, gave more of a reason to mention their reliance on the dieties they believed in.

My biggest problem I had was with the ending. I was extremely glad I had the second of the trilogy to hand and I strongly recommend that anyone who reads this book immediately reads the first part of the next one.

Without spoiling the plot, I found the characters in a situation at the end that implied one thing and then found this not to be true on reading the first chapter of the next book. I think I would have infinitely prefered it had it not implied one way or the other at the end of the first book.

Over all I give the book 4 out of 5