Movie night in celebration of the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. We saw Elysium (hated it), The Lone Ranger (mostly loved it), and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (pretty much liked it).

I wanted to love Elysium. The cyberpunk elements were interesting—computer devices installed directly into people’s brains, super-sophisticated computer equipment amid underworld squalor—but there were way too many bulging, tattooed biceps and noisy, graphic violence that didn’t advance the story, and repetitions of story elements. As for the story, it veered perilously close to propaganda. Not recommended.

I expected to dislike The Lone Ranger. The film tanked at the box office, was the subject of a contentious budget fight between the movie studio and the principals, and earned scorn for Johnny Depp’s depiction of Tonto. Instead, the production values were as high as promised and Depp was wonderful—humorous, serious, and ironic as the Injun mastermind who outsmarts everyone, is the Lone Ranger’s staunchest ally and something of a shaman. Plenty of allusions to Little Big Man and Last of the Mohicans. My small reservations were over a lame cat joke and a lamer dead horse joke (I have zero tolerance for jokes at an animal’s expense). The Lone Ranger’s pure white “spirit horse,” who gallops up to save the day on several occasions, was totally wonderful. I love how they engineer equine whinnies and snuffles to sound like the horse is emoting. The rousing finale set to the classic William Tell Overture had us applauding and cheering. Very entertaining.

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones was another box office stinker but since I read and liked Cassandra Clare’s 2005 YA book and write urban fantasy myself, I wanted to see it. The book, about secretive Shadow Hunters with magical powers who protect humanity from all manner of demons, is very long and complex. Critics complained that the script over-explained, but I thought the explanations were nicely parceled out and, overall, the film captured the book rather well. Tom said several times the story reminded him too much of Buffy and, indeed, the book jacket touts the book as an edgier Buffy. No surprise there. Critics also complained the lead actors were unsympathetic so I expected to see whiny, self-absorbed teenagers and bad acting. Neither was the case. The objections seem to be more superficial. I thought the male lead was well cast as the blond Jace, but Tom thought he was weird-looking. As for the heroine, her too dark, too close together eyebrows distracted from her little face. If you like urban fantasy, you could do worse to while away two hours.

So there you have it, my friends. Don’t believe everything the critics say.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
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Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony;

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