Monday, May 16, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly meets George Orwell
My Review of Priest, 16 May 2011

Priest is a Dystopic Adrenaline Fueled Thrill-ride... True to it's roots in Road Warrior, Mad Max, the spaghetti western and other post-apocalyptic action movies, Priest is a completely action driven movie. From that perspective, it succeeds very well. Then there are the eyeless, acrobatic "vampires" bringing some crossover into Survival Horror. Fans of that genre should appreciate it as well.

There isn't much of a story however, but there's enough of one to motivate and sustain the flow of movie. The acting is quite good for the most part, Paul Bettany is incredibly intense as the Priest, reflecting faith, without fanaticism, tempered by wisdom. Karl Urban is also great as well the Priest's dark nemesis, with enough depth to avoid becoming a one dimensional villain.

Perhaps the real hero is the art direction, in this dystopic, Orwellian vision of an alternate future. The hive-like confines of "the City" with its colorless paranoia, and obsession with security and safety make the bleak Wastelands outside appear expansive and free. There is not a shred of vegetation in the entire movie, (which made me wonder what people eat). The contrast is stark, the atmosphere grim and purposeful. Personally I ate it up. The whole effect was similar to Riddick, but Riddick was not a Western at heart.

Being a fan of Steven Kings "the Dark Tower", I could see that Priest has drawn from that series consciously, without borrowing any of the plot.

I found Priest quite entertaining and am somewhat dismayed by the negative reviews. Certainly many people will find a lot to like in this movie.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

The Perils of Steam Power

As I was researching the plausibility of Steam Engines for a story, the thought arose, "What could go wrong with them?"  The answer is plenty!  Steam Boilers did on occasion explode spectacularly.  I found the stories of Steam Powered Disasters fascinating.

The most deadly accidents occurred on Steamboats, as a boiler explosion containing the explosive power of nearly half a ton of dynamite would detonate and render the ship into a pile of matchsticks.

Samuel Clemens brother Henry died from the result of burns due to the explosion of the S.S. Pennsylvania,

"Eyewitness testimony was given to the fact that the engineer was not at his post in the engine room just prior to the explosion, instead being in the company of some women."

Sam Clemons served as a cub pilot left the Pennsylvania and had only left the ship one week prior to it's demise.  He had a obtained his brother Henry his position as a mud clerk, basically an unpaid intern.

"We witnessed one of the most affecting scenes at the Exchange yesterday that has ever been seen. The brother of Mr. Henry Clemens, second clerk of the Pennsylvania, who now lies dangerously ill from the injuries received by the explosion of that boat, arrived in the city yesterday afternoon, on the steamer A. T. LACY. He hurried to the Exchange to see his brother, and on approaching the bedside of the wounded man, his feelings so much overcame him, at the scalded and emaciated form before him, that he sunk to the floor overpowered. There was scarcely a dry eye in the house; the poor sufferers shed tears at the sight. This brother had been pilot on the Pennsylvania, but fortunately for him, had remained in New Orleans when the boat started up.
- Memphis Eagle and Enquirer, 16 June 1858