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Posts Tagged ‘devil’

Book Review: Dead Harvest by Chris F. Holm (Series, #1)

March 8, 2012 5 comments

Man shoving his hand into a person's chest against a blue background.Summary:
Sam sold his soul to the devil in the 1940s and ever since then he’s been hopping from body to body, possessing and utilizing them to perform his task–collect the souls of the dammed.  Although he can possess anyone, he prefers the recently dead.  His new assignment stops him dead in his tracks though when he touches the 17 year old girl’s soul, a girl who supposedly killed her mother, father, and brother in cold blood, and finds it untainted.  His refusal to collect her sends both angels and demons after him, eager to restore the balance, but Sam insists that collecting her soul will only bring about the Apocalypse.

Review:
I’m not sure why, but somewhere between my email from Angry Robot about this then upcoming book and actually reading it, I forgot what it was about and assumed from the title that it’s about zombies.  Um, not so much? Haha.  Actually, it is an urban fantasy film noir.  Instead of a detective we have a collector, who, a friend pointed out to me, is basically the same as Sam the Reaper on the tv show Reaper.  Our femme fatale is Lilith (you know, the first woman god made but she refused to be subservient to man so she got kicked out of the garden and went and hung out with demons.  I always liked her).  It all sounds super-cool, but I was left feeling very luke-warm about the whole thing.

First, there’s how Sam talks, which I get is supposed to come across as witty banter, but I myself didn’t find that amusing.  Perhaps I’m way too familiar with the classic works of film noir and to me this just didn’t measure up.  Perhaps I’m just a mismatch for it.  I feel like people with a slightly different sense of humor would enjoy it more, though.  Personally it just read as Sam trying too hard to sound suave, which I always find annoying.

My other big issue with the story is a couple of really unbelievable action sequences.  Ok, I get it that this is urban fantasy, but even within that we still need believability.  What do I mean by this?  Well, if something huge happens that affects the mortals, there should be discussion of how the immortals cover it up or deal with the fall-out.  This doesn’t really happen in this book.  One sequence in particular that bugged me involved Sam and the 17 year old hijacking a helicopter, flying it all over NYC, then crashing it in a park AND THEY GET AWAY.  Does anyone believe this could actually happen in a post 9/11 world unless some sort of otherworldly shielding was going on?  I don’t think so.  It was at this point that I knew the book was just not gonna work for me.

Does this mean that I think it’s a badly written book?  No.  It’s an interesting twist on urban fantasy and film noir simultaneously.  The characters are interesting, and the plot wraps-up fairly well.  I personally found it difficult to get into and found some sequences simply too ridiculous to believe.  However, I do think other people might enjoy it more, perhaps someone who has an intense love for urban fantasy and doesn’t mind ridiculous situations.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Kindle copy from publisher in exchange for my honest review

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Movie Review: Shortcut to Happiness (2004)

September 9, 2010 2 comments

Male and female feet entwined with a red devil's tail.Summary:
Jabez Stone loves writing, and he wants to be a good writer, but he also wants to be a famous one.  When his friend sells his manuscript for a lucrative sum, and Jabez follows this news up by having one of the worst days of his life, he tells the mirror that he’d sell his soul for that success.  Of course the devil comes knocking in the form of a beautiful woman to cut that deal, but fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Review:
Even though they’re all rather obvious and quite predictable, I’ve always enjoyed “sells soul to devil” stories as a sort of movie comfort food.  Yes, we all know what’s going to happen in the end, but the selling the soul part and the part immediately after when everything is going right are actually quite entertaining to watch.  The thing is, these movies can easily go bad if they’re not careful.  There’s fun cheesy, and then there’s eye-rolling cheesy.  Unfortunately, this movie is one of the latter.

It features a fairly impressive cast–Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dan Akroyd, and Kim Cattrall–yet they for the most part fail to deliver.  Jennifer Love Hewitt clearly tries; it’s not her fault she was miscast.  For some reason many of these movies persist in casting Barbie doll fake plastic type actresses in the role of the devil, when it’s obvious a classic femme fatale would be much more accurate.  The devil should be glamorous, not fake.  It’s much harder to see through glamor than fake bullshit.  Dan Akroyd does a good job, but he is underutilized.  As for Baldwin and Cattrall, I had no idea these two can’t actually act, but they can’t.  Either that, or they can only act one type of role.  Baldwin behaves in exactly the same manner here as he does in 30 Rock, and ditto for Cattrall and Sex and the City.  In Cattrall’s case, that’s fine because it suits her role, but in Baldwin’s?  Yeesh.  His character is supposed to be a good soul who has one bad day and makes a bad decision, not a slimy corporate guy, and yet he reads as the latter.

In spite of the casting, the movie still could have been decent with a good script, which is why the first half of the movie is quite watchable.  Unfortunately, it takes a serious nose-dive in the second half of the movie from interesting exploration of human behavior to….a court room trial?  Held in a cemetery?  With a jury consisting of people from Jabez’s past and famous authors such as Hemingway?  What the fuck?!  The whole entire court room scene, which seems to last forever, is from so far out of left field and so painfully boring that it really, truly ruins the movie.  This is the classic example of how the ending can ruin an entire story.  Seriously, don’t start out being all “yay NYC capers! Plus, the devil!” and then slam us with a court room scene more boring than Law and Order.

That said, I still actually watched the whole movie.  Granted, I was playing Angry Birds on my iTouch most of the time, but the fact remains I did finish it.  So it is watchable, but it certainly is not high-quality viewing.  If you have time to kill and are a fan of any of the actors I mentioned or are a fan of selling soul to the devil stories, you won’t hate it, but there are definitely better films out there to kill time with.

2 out of 5 stars

Source: Netflix

Buy It It appears not to have been released on DVD. Interesting.