The Wise Man’s Fear (Patrick Rothfuss)

The Wise Man’s Fear is the second book in The Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss. [Here my review of the first one: The Name of The Wind.]

Plot:
It’s the second day that Kvothe tells his story to the Chronicler and Bast, Kvothe’s apprentice. Young Kvothe is still fighting to remain at the university. He starts to have a bit of a routine, between trying to get enough money to pay his tuition and studying attentively (especially Naming) and making music. But sooner rather than later, this more or less peaceful routine gets interrupted by Kvothe’s own hot-headedness and it suits him to leave town for a bit. And so Kvothe travels to Severen where he tries to continue his research about the Amyr and the Chandrian.

Much like the first book, The Wise Man’s Fear is a gripping read that just flies by. Unlike the first book, it did not make me curse the gender politics. I’d call that an all around win.

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Insidious (2010)

Insidious is the newest film by James Wan, written by Leigh Whannell and starring Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Ty Simpkins, Leigh Whannell, Angus Sampson and Lin Shaye.

Plot:
Josh (Patrick Wilson) and Renai (Rose Byrne) just moved into a new house with their three kids. Their lives are quite normal, their marriage not perfect but mostly well. But then Renai starts to hear and see weird things in the house. After that their son Dalton (Ty Simpkins) falls into a coma – one day he just doesn’t wake up anymore, for no apparent reason. And that’s when the bad things really start to happen.

I’ve heard good things in advance about Insidious and I was hoping that the film lived up to his hype – much too often I’m disappointed by horror movies. I enjoy them but I’m just not that easily scared. But holy freaking mother of crap. Insidious went straight into my top 3 scariest movies ever. My heart still beats a bit faster when I think about it.

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Green Lantern (2011)

Green Lantern is Martin Campbell‘s adaptation of the DC comics. The film was written by Greg Berlanti, Michael Green, Marc Guggenheim and Michael Goldenberg and stars Ryan Reynolds, Blake Lively, Peter Sarsgaard, Mark Strong, Tim Robbins, Taika Waititi, Michael Clarke Duncan, Geoffrey Rush and Angela Bassett.

Plot:
Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds) is a fighter pilot and basically the definition of irresponsibility. One day Hal stumbles upon a dying alien, Abin Sur (Temuera Morrison). Abin Sur is a Green Lantern, an intergalactic police force. His power source is a ring that can harness will power and which choses Hal to be Abin Sur’s successor. So Hal gets drawn into the world of the Green Lanterns and their biggest foe Parallax (Clancy Brown).

Green Lantern is not a particularly good film. Fortunately for its entertainment value it’s a pretty craptastic film. Would it have hurt if it had made a little more sense? [Topless Robot pretty much takes apart all the plot holes. In a very entertaining way.] Probably not. But then the movie would have had to leave out a few of the bad green screen scenes in front of fake sunsets – and really, who would want that?

[SPOILERS]

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Hoodwinked Too! Hood VS. Evil (2011)

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is the sequel to Hoodwinked. It was directed by Mike Disa, written by Mike Disa, Tony Leech, Cory Edwards and Todd Edwards and stars the voices of Hayden Panettiere, Glenn Close, Patrick Warburton, Cheech Marin, Joan Cusack, Bill Hader, Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Brad Garrett, Andy Dick, Danny Pudi and Heidi Klum.

Plot:
Red Riding Hood (Hayden Panettiere) started training with the Sisters of the Hood to learn the sacred art of kung fu bakery and left The Big Bad Wolf (Patrick Warburton) and Granny (Glenn Close) to take care of the bad guys by themselves. That doesn’t really work out that well. While trying to save Hansel (Bill Hader) and Gretel (Amy Poehler), Granny gets kidnapped and Red Riding Hood has to rescue her. At the same time she also has to figure our who stole the recipe for the supertruffel from the Sisters.

I liked Hoodwinked a lot. But Hoodwinked Too was pretty disappointing. A huge factor of this disappointment was that the German dubbed version was the only version I could see (legally). For a film that relies so much on puns, that’s pretty much a death-sentence right there. But the translation didn’t change the inanity of the plot, nor did it produce the fat-hatred that was casually inserted into the movie.

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Bridesmaids (2011)

Bridesmaids is the newest film by Paul Feig, written by Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo and starring Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Melissa McCarthy, Matt Lucas, Rebel Wilson, Chris O’Dowd, Jon Hamm.

Plot:
When Annie’s (Kristen Wiig) best friend Lillian (Maya Rudolph) gets married, Annie is happy for her. But then Annie meets Lillian’s boss’s wife Helen (Rose Byrne) who has taken on a more and more important role in Lillian’s life. What starts off as a slightly ridiculous rivalry between Annie and Helen, soon ends in Annie having a full-fledged crisis and her starting to ruin Lillian’s wedding preparations.

I was hesitant to see Bridesmaids since it’s basically touted als The Hangover in pink (hence for women) and I hated The Hangover with an inordinate passion. Surprisingly, I didn’t hate it. Bridesmaids does have some good parts to it, though it also has its fair share of fecal humor which I’ll never get. Will it become my new go-to comedy? No. But I also didn’t regret seeing it.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is the last movie in the Harry Potter series originally written by Joanne K. Rowling. The film was directed by David Yates, written by Steve Kloves and starring pretty much every British actor ever Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Ralph Fiennes, Alan Rickman, Michael Gambon, Helena Bonham Carter, Maggie Smith, Matthew Lewis, Tom Felton, Evanna Lynch, Jason Isaacs, Warwick Davis, Bonnie Wright, David Thewlis, Ciarán Hinds, Julie Walters, Kelly Macdonald, John Hurt, Helen McCrory, Domhnall Gleeson, Jim Broadbent, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Robbie Coltrane, Jamie Campbell Bower, Gary Oldman and Emma Thompson.

Plot:
Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) slowly uncovers the final secrets surrounding his life while his fight with Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) draws to an end. After pretty much everything has gone to hell, things – and people – are finally coming together for the final battle while Harry, Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) try to destroy the remaining horcruxes.

After HPatDH:1 2 pretty much had to be a cinematic revelation (I still can’t believe how boring 1 was), just in comparison. And that worked out. Is it the best movie ever? Well no, David Yates is still its director. But it’s a decent and fitting ending to the series.

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Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

Kung Fu Panda 2 is the first feature film by Jennifer Yuh, written by Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger and starring the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Gary Oldman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu, David Cross, Michelle Yeoh, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Victor Garber, Danny McBride and James Hong. [Here’s my review of the first one.]

Plot:
Po (Jack Black), head of the Furious Five – Tigress (Angelina Jolie), Mantis (Seth Rogen), Viper (Lucy Liu), Monkey (Jackie Chan), Crane (David Cross) – is pretty content with his life. That is, until the kingdom is threatened by the evil Lord Shen (Gary Oldman) who developed a new weapon that is able to defeat Kung Fu and with which he plans to take over. But a soothsayer (Michelle Yeoh) has predicted his defeat – and his fate and Po’s seem to be more closely tied together than both realise at first.

Kung Fu Panda 2 is a very sweet film and an excellent sequel.The cast is good, the story is nice, but it’s the animation that really stands out: it’s that fantastic.

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Shadowland

Shadowland is a dance show by the Pilobolus Dance Company that mostly just shows the dancers’ shadows.

Plot:
The story it tells is a bit of an Alice in Wonderland variation: a young girl comes to a magical world where a godlike creature gives her a dog head. She has to live through a few adventures and travel this world before she can be turned back into her own self. Or is it just a dream?

Shadowland works perfectly as long as they stick to the work with the shadows. There are breaks inbetween with more usual dance routines which fail to impress. But these are short and don’t dampen the overall enjoyment of the show.

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A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (Marina Lewycka)

A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian is the first novel by Marina Lewycka.

Plot:
Nadia and her estranged sister Vera are the second generation of an Ukranian immigrant family in the UK. After their mother’s death, their father decides to marry again – and finds himself a much younger woman how obviously only wants to marry him to get a UK green card. Shocked the sisters unite their forces to stop this from happening and to save their father, who gets frailer by the minute.

I’ve heard many good things about A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian. My sisters, my mother, they all read and enjoyed it and the cover blurbs hail it as a comedy masterpiece. I have to admit I mostly failed to see the humor. But as long as I didn’t try to find the book funny, it was pretty good.

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The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The Lincoln Lawyer is Brad Furman‘s adaptation of Michael Connelly‘s novel, written by John Romano, starring Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, William H. Macy, Josh Lucas, John Leguizamo, Michael Peña and Bryan Cranston.

Plot:
Mick Haller (Matthew McConaughey) is pretty much the definition of a sleazy lawyer. But then he takes on the defense of Louis Roulet (Ryan Phillippe), a rich kid accused of murder. Together with his best friend, private detective Frank Levin (William H. Macy) he digs into the particulars of the case. Pretty soon he discovers that the story Louis is telling can’t be quite true – and there might be a connection to one of Mick’s old cases.

The Lincoln Lawyer is basically the cinematical equivalent of fast food. There’s some nurtitional value to it, it will satisfy your hunger – but only for a little while. Is it a culinary delight? Well, no. But it does its job without leaving much behind, good or bad.

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