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Monthly Archives: August 2012

I first saw The Flight of Dragons when I was only six or seven years old.  (At the risk of dating myself) It was one of the first movies we rented for our first VHS.  It was immediately one of my favorite movies, and although my perspective has changed with the years, my appreciation of the movie hasn’t.

A little background:  This movie is actually a blend of two fantasy books.  The first is The Flight of Dragons by Peter Dickenson.  Despite my periodic attempts, I haven’t yet put my hands on a copy of this.  The other is the Dragon and George by Gordon R Dickson. 

One of the things I love about this movie is how it blends science and fantasy.  This is always one of the challenges for fantasy writers.  Obviously, we live in a world of science where magic isn’t considered real.  Should there be a bridge mechanism, that ties our world to the magic world?  Should the story be set in a world with no tie to ours?  Or do only “special” people get to see the magic world?  This movie takes place in the distant past, before mankind makes the decision to turn its back on magic in favor of science and logic.

But what really cements this as one of my favorite movies is the climax.  The hero is faced with an impossible battle.  He cannot win, and make his quest a success.  He will not survive this stand against evil, but he does not back down.  The personal sacrifice is no reason to allow evil to proceed unhindered.  The movie to this point has firmly established that the heroes are vulnerable.  As a result, this is one of my favorite moments in any movie.  As a writer, it is thi s moment that I try to reach.

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I saw The Dark Knight Rises over the past weekend, and the movie was definitely worth seeing.  I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers in this review.

My initial reaction is that this was not as good as its predecessor, The Dark Knight.  I cannot, however, precisely put my finger on why.  The stakes, as one would expect, are higher.  The chance of victory, in some ways, seemed even farther away.  Despite this, it failed to convince me that there was a chance that Batman would not stop Bain.  

I think the real difference between the movies comes down to the villains.  The Joker, as masterfully portrayed by Heath Ledger, was intelligent and cunning, but unpredictable.  He had a goal, but could be flexible in its execution.  You knew he would strike, but not when or how.  Bain is more like a surgeon.  He has meticulously planned the demise of Gotham, and follows each step precisely.  His execution is chillingly efficient, but it also allows for him to be outplayed.  You can always be outplayed at chess (as Bain was), but who can predict when someone starts throwing pieces (like the Joker)?  And ultimately, the Joker’s wild exuberance is more entertaining than Bain’s calm, clinical attack.

Die-hard fans of the comic may be turned off somewhat by the changes to Bain in the movie.  He’s still an intelligent, powerful fighter, but now there is no exceptional explanation for this.  The mask delivers anesthetic to treat constant, chronic pain – not the drug which increased his speed and strength in the comics.  I was only bothered by this in that there was then no explanation for his fighting skill and strength.

I’ve written before about my opinion of having a hero who is mortal within the story.  All I’ll say about the ending is that I was convinced that Batman could die.