Friday, September 30, 2011

Hope for More Fantasy Movies

Few fantasy books translate well to movies or television. “Legend of the Seeker” based on Terry Goodkind’s “Sword of Truth” books made an attempt to capture the story but failed. Recently, “Game of Thrones” made it onto television and the reviews are good so far. (One of the actors even won an Emmy recently.) There have been many films in the genre before. In the past, the entertainment industry has made Fantasy themed movies, but they have been limited in scope. The movies have been about angels, devils, people switching bodies, ghosts, poor versions of sword wielding warriors and many humorous ventures. Granted, some of these are well done, even classics, but most are terrible disappointments. They have inconsistent plots, boring characters and cheap special effects. Few of them explore the depths of the Fantasy genre or leave us with memorable stories. Newer attempts at creating new movies and series are promising for fans of fantasy. This trend could lead to more fantasy series or movies in the future. Film makers have a chance for successful movies and television series because of a large fan base, special effects improvements and a large number of books in the genre to choose from for inspiration.

First, there is a large untapped fan base for film makers to court for an audience. The fan base consists of readers in the genre, role playing gamers, video game players and many others ranging in age from children to elderly adults. Appealing to the base by making more fantasy series or movies would bring a ready-made audience to watch their works. These fans might increase the audience by word of mouth, since fans of fantasy tend to be excellent at networking. Just look at the success of the Harry Potter movies that tapped into the fan base of the books. General movie audiences would appreciate this too and could bring more readers to the genre. With the recent success of the “Game of Thrones” series, the books have catapulted on to the Bestseller lists again due to new readers checking out the books.

Next, the constant rapid improvements in special effects make it easier for more fantasy films to be made. The newer special effects like CGI brings fantasy worlds to life and makes fantastic creatures look realistic. This allows for the suspension of disbelief to be easier for the viewers. In years past, these effects were clumsy, shoddy and cheap, giving the film a very fake appearance. This ruins the watching experience for the movie viewer, leaving the feeling of being cheated. A viewer gets pulled away from the fantasy elements by fake looking costumes, inferior sets and bad plots and dialogue. In the present day, special effects have improved greatly. Computer generated images and monsters create imaginative images. When blended with live action shots and actors, a viewer is drawn into the film, which makes it easier to suspend disbelief.

Finally, the large number of books in the genre provides a greater choice for film makers to draw from for inspiration. Using the many different fantasy books available can bring more depth and improve genre films. Many books could or would make excellent movies. Fantasy themes deal with many things that concern people now. The fight between good and evil, hope, love and many others are displayed in many books. Fantasy removes us from the real world to deal with difficult issues. Numerous books could be used for ideas instead of falling back on overdone fairy tales, devils, angels, ghosts and other repeated plots. Authors that could be looked into are: Robert Holdstock, Neil Gaiman, Andre Norton, Mercedes Lackey, Guy Gavriel Kay, Robert Jordan, David Eddings, etc. The list could go on for a long time. Books could be made into TV series, miniseries and movies. It only takes the vision and courage of film makers to mine Fantasy books for some entertaining gems.

Fantasy movies poise on the edge of a possible boom of films for fans. The improvement of special effects, a large untapped fan base, and many books to choose from can provide film makers with a large audience. They can improve the genre and get away from overdone themes that have been repeated too often, which bores people to the point of not watching. If they mine the depths of Fantasy, they could provide viewers with new visions in TV series, movies and miniseries. Come on entertainment industry. Take a chance.

For other views on fantasy movies and television shows there are these articles:

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Culture-Cafe/2011/0621/10-fantasy-novels-that-would-make-great-TV-shows

http://www.magicalwords.net/diana-pharaoh-francis/fantasy-and-sf-movies/

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Friday, September 16, 2011

Book Review: _Children of Amarid_ by David B. Coe

The mages of Tobyn-Ser are healers and protectors of the land. People respect them, but something is happening. Suddenly, the mages are killing people and things are changing. In another part of the land, a young man is having prophetic dreams that will change his life. This is the beginning of The Children of Amarid by David B. Coe and the first book of the “Lon Tobyn Chronicles” trilogy. The book has a suspenseful plot, likable characters and intriguing magical elements.

A suspenseful plot keeps the reader hooked for a gripping adventure. This Fantasy novel has a lot of that for readers. It starts out with an attack by mysterious mages with black birds all over the land. Jaryd begins manifesting his powers, so leaves with his uncle to journey to the gathering of the mages. There he soon binds with his hawk familiar and goes on a journey with other mages to confront a long dead mage about the massacres. On reaching their destination, one of the mages betrays the company. A story of ambition, murder, intrigue and justice ensues with sharp descriptions. Mr. Coe keeps the pace of the story moving with plenty of action and quiet interludes of character development.

Likable characters are important to a novel in making a book worth reading. The characters of this book fits this requirement. Jaryd grows from an unsure mage into a warrior that saves the people. He gains wisdom and learns about love while becoming a mage. Help comes from his uncle Baden who teaches him many things and has a strong love for the land of Tobyn-Ser. Alayna is a more experienced mage then Jaryd, but still new to her powers. She starts out resentful of Jaryd, but grows into friendship and love by the end of the novel. All the characters have realistic personalities because of the author’s keen development over the course of the book.

Lastly, the intriguing magical elements of the book allows it to have a lot of action. In this Fantasy world, the mages are known as the “Children of Amarid.” They serve the land of Tobyn-Ser as healers and mediators. All of the mages are bonded to a bird of prey. Those bonded to hawks have weaker powers until they bind to an owl. The Owlmasters are considered the ones with more wisdom and understanding; they rule the order of mages. Also, every mage carries a staff topped by a crystal the unique color of the mage’s personality. Without a staff or bird, the mage is helpless. Their main fear is dying unbonded to a bird because they become trapped ghosts that haunt the land forever. Mr. Coe weaves these elements into an entertaining story.

The Children of Amarid by David B. Coe is a strong beginning of a Fantasy trilogy. The magical elements, characters and plot combine together to give readers a suspenseful story full of action. Don’t miss this book or the other two in the trilogy, The Outlanders and Eagle-Sage.

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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Book Review: _Changer_ by Jane Lindskold

A hidden people lives among humanity. They are immortals, shapeshifters and magicians. They are called the Athanor. These people spawned humanity's myths and legends. Changer by Jane Lindskold is a novel about the Athanor. This is an intriguing Contemporary Fantasy novel full of interesting characters, an entertaining plot and fascinating culture of the Athanor.

All of the Athanor are interesting characters. The main character is called the Changer. He is an ancient shapeshifter and wild element among his people. Most find him enigmatic and scary. He prefers to live in the wilds and stays away from his people most of the time. Arthur is the king of the Athanor, though he is mostly an administrator in the present day. He tries to keep the peace among his people and humanity from discovering their presence. The king has the help of Vera (Athena) and Eddie (Bedivere). There are many other interesting characters among the Athanor that contribute to the plot.

The plot of the book is very entertaining and keeps the reader wanting to race through the book. Changer starts out when the Changer returns to find his coyote family murdered except one daughter; the runt of the litter. He wants revenge, so goes to King Arthur for help. A triumverate of Athanor (Loki, Circe and the Head) drew him into their plot to overthrow King Arthur unwillingly. Changer doesn't involve himself with Athanor politics. The plot continues to draw the reader in with other subplots against Arthur and a growing movement among the nonhuman members of the Athanor to have a bigger say and tired of living on the fringes of human a civilization.

Lastly, the hidden culture of the Athanor is fascinating. The Athanor are all immortal, but vary greatly. Some are human in form, while others are animals or creatures like sasquatches, yeti and tengu. A few can change their shapes or do magic. The younger ones revere the ancient ones because of their experience. They are all bound by the life force of Harmony, which lets them survive. There is an Accord they all live by. These factors allow them to live remarkable lives among humanity.

Changer by Jane Lindskold is an entertaining Contemporary Fantasy novel. It tells the story of the immortal Athanor that live hidden among humanity in our modern world. The book has interesting characters, an entertaining plot and fascinating culture of the Athanor. Readers will find this book hard to put down. Be sure to check it out if you can.

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