Tuesday, February 10, 2015
latest consumptions; The Quatermass Xperiment & Wolf in Shadow
I finally got around to watching the movie version of The Quatermass Xperiment. I was disappointed that it is rather ordinary. I don't know that casting an American as Quatermass was necessarily a problem, but the character was extremely stiff. Brian Donlevy didn't play with any nuance, and seemed barely there except when he needed to butt heads. It felt flat, like a simple B alien monster movie rather than something deeper.
The story involves a rocket experiment that goes wrong. Three astronauts go up, only one comes back, and his behavior is unhealthy and strange. I will say my favorite thing about this adaptation was Richard Wordsworth's portrayal of the afflicted astronaut. He goes full "Frankenstein's Monster," with no dialog. But he conveys a lot with body language and physical acting. There is even an homage (in my mind) to the infamous monster and girl at the pond scene from Frankenstein.
On the BluRay, there is an interesting interview with John Carpenter, and he does make some good points about the film's impact - particularly on him.
It had been a while since my last Gemmell read. I grabbed this one. Originally entitled The Jerusalem Man (a title I still prefer,) it serves as both the opening to one trilogy (tales of Jon Shannow, the Jerusalem Man,) and the third entry in a longer series about the Stones of Power.
Wolf in Shadow is an apocalyptic Western. The nature of the disaster that ended the world is revealed as the story progresses. Jon Shannow is a wandering hero. A man in search of the fabled city of Jerusalem. Along the way, he fights the good fight. But now he faces his biggest challenge - an organized army of satanists, spreading across the land. No mere brigand bands, this army attacks the very core of what Shannow holds true and dear.
I like the character of Shannow a lot. He's smart and resourceful but not without flaws. He is a "Christian" and a "Bible man." There is an honesty to his faith. He sees the same conflicts between Bible passages as anyone else - and he has no priest or mentor to help him understand. He stands up for the oppressed and gives evil no excuses.
I was less interested as the book reached its crescendo. Lots of side characters were getting focused on, and I am far more interested in Shannow's story. Even though the setups were valid, I felt too much Deus ex Machina, too.
And I kept having a specific disconnect.;
In nearly every gunfight, Gemmell referred to "shells" whizzing around instead of "slugs" or "bullets." It threw me out of the story. I kept thinking someone called in artillery!
It's a surprising inaccuracy because there is more than a bit of cap & ball, cartridge, repeating weapon, flintlock, musket delineation throughout the story. I'm surprised this one detail was inaccurate.
All in all though, it is a good post-apocalypse tale with an interesting central hero. I will be finishing out the trilogy, for certain. And I will probably read the other books in the Stones of Power series.