The other day I did my daily inspection through my local bookstore (soon to be out of business) and I was more than surprised to see one of my favorite characters brought back to life. That’s right, 007 himself, James Bond. Now I know the studios are having a hard time deciding what to do with this iconic character and I hope when they get their act together Daniel Craig maintains his role. That stated I’m pleased to see this character live on in the written word.
Now it’s been some time since I last read a James Bond novel and rightly so, Ian Fleming’s been dead for many years. You could imagine my delight though when I saw the big bold 007 plastered across the cover. The new book is entitled Carte Blanche written by Jeffrey Deaver and it’s the latest installment of Bond adventures. In fairness, the last book released on Bond wasn’t that long ago. If memory serves, it was Devil May Care, written by Sebastian Faulks and released on May 28th, 2008. Interestingly enough the release date was the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming’s birth. Coincidence? You bet … but I digress, back to Carte Blanche.
Do you remember the good old days, when spy novels were really simple? It was us, or the British, against the Russians. We’d be stopping worldwide domination, or widespread communism, or most common of all, foiling a plot to set-off a nuclear missile. Well that was then, this is now. We’re green, we’re in Dubai, (or as they say Do Buy), and we’re foiling a plot to stop a bomb that would spike food prices for the starving in Africa. My has the world changed.
Have no fear, James Bond is here and he will come to save the day. M has your back James, but not much else. Your own government is putting the kibosh on your carte blanche status at home. You’re an international man, so get out of the country James, and do what you do best. Kill some people, sleep with beautiful women, and by God, have your Vodka martini – shaken not stirred.
What was that you said? You don’t care for your vodka martini this time? You want to create a new drink? A Carte Blanche you say, hmm, interesting twist. How do you make this Carte Blanche? I’m glad you asked, why you simply add a double measure of Crown Royal Canadian Whiskey, some ice, and a half measure of Triple Sec. Don’t forget the two dashes of Angostura Bitter and finish it off with a twist of orange peel. Delicious? I don’t know I didn’t try it (more of a beer connoisseur).
End result, Deaver did his best to stay true to the Bond formula. Yes there were blatant advertisements regarding what products Bond used, yes he slept with the bad girl (once again), and yes he drove only the nicest of automobiles. To Deaver’s credit there were many twists in the story line that kept you interested. The newest spin, that I don’t think I ever read before, was Bond’s back-story, specifically regarding the history of his parents. I won’t reveal the details; I don’t want to spoil the twist. You get a good feel of why James turned out to be 007 … clever Mr. Deaver, very clever. Bottom line, it was an enjoyable, easy read, and yet another mission complete for Mister Bond.
Okay movie goers, this review is long over due, but with my recent trip to Germany and some other distractions out of the way, I’m ready to give my two cents on my favorite marvel hero, Captain America. As many of you are aware, Captain America: The First Avenger, staring Chris Evans as the iconic Steve Rogers opened in theaters a few weeks back. Even though it’s been some time since I saw the movie (watched during opening week), I still have my thoughts fresh in my mind. If you didn’t see the movie, be aware that I will reveal some spoilers.
When Disney first acquired Marvel over a year ago, I had some reservations as to how they would handle the product. As expected, the market is now flooded with super hero paraphernalia of anything and everything imaginable in the stores. Is this a bad thing? Depends on how you look at it, I suppose. Point being, if there’s a consumer out there willing to by the product, then go make your money. What concerned me most however, was how they would handle the movies and the characters portrayed in these movies.
We’ve now had three opportunities to see what Marvel/Disney could do during this past summer alone. Thor, well done. The ending was a little confusing, but all in all a good film. The X-Men movie, excellent. A very revealing tale of how the X-Men got their start. Captain America, I rank as good, not the best in the group, but good. They clearly took some liberties in the history of the characters with both Cap, and his partner Bucky Barnes, but overall it was a good portrayal of the character and his creation back in the 1940’s.
I had to admit, seeing Chris Evans’ face on this ninety-eight pound weakling looked very strange. You knew they had to do it to show the transformation, but he looked really odd. I did like the fact that they took you to the very beginning and showed you how he became who he was now. It was interesting to see the struggles he endured before becoming a super soldier, and the brief history of his family played a nice background into why he was so determined to join the army. Evans did a great job in playing the role and stayed true to the Boy Scout attitude the Captain had all throughout the movie. Well played Mr. Evans, well played, a far cry from his devil may care attitude he had while playing Johnny Storm of the Fantastic Four series.
Hugo Weaving also did an impressive job of portraying the Red Skull, the captain’s evil arch nemesis, and Hitler’s version of a super soldier. I really liked the fact that they brought you into a war torn Europe during WWII. The attention to detail as always was amazing … maybe a little too gloomy. The only time they took you out of the forties story line was in the beginning and the very end. Unfortunately for most viewers unfamiliar with the story line the beginning was a bit confusing. I had to do a little explaining to clear up some big questions.
My only beef, it there’s any to be had, was that they did make some dramatic changes to the original story line. Specifically the way they killed off Cap’s best buddy Bucky and even Cap’s own descent into the icy abyss. A far cry from the original version of being kicked off a German missile. Even the way the finished off the Red Skull, was inventive, but different. Does he come back from the prison created by the cube, or does he perish? I guess we’ll have to wait until Cap 2 for the answer to that question. No worries though, both versions were entertaining. Bottom line, it was a good film and definitely worth seeing if you’re a fan of the character, but it was probably the weakest of the three super hero movies released this summer. I do look forward to next year though, when they do the first Avengers film. This has been a long time in the making. I only hope it lives up to expectations.
So that’s it. The summer blockbusters are done. I’ve done my part to see and review every big film released this summer with two notable exceptions: The Green Lantern (never really a fan, wait for DVD) and The Planet of the Apes – looks awesome, but I’m spent for summer movies. Frankly, I don’t think I could sit through another thirty minutes of commercials and previews to get to another film. All in all, it was a great summer – now give me a book.
Hello readers, I’m sorry for the lack of publishing last week, but yours truly finally took some needed time off and went on vacation. Maybe I was inspired by the Captain America film I saw, or the need to visit my motherland, but I decided to take the family to Germany. Where in Germany you say? Well specifically we based our camp in Munich, or as the native Deutsche would say, Munchen (please forgive the missing umlauts at the top of the word, my computer can’t produce the symbol).
You went to Germany now you say? The global markets are collapsing, riots are hitting the streets of what are considered civilized nations, and I decided to take my family to Germany? Yes I did, and we couldn’t have been more pleased. There was so much to do and see that I couldn’t possibly give enough justice to what we did in one short blog. I will do my best to try and point out some highlights. We did however get an opportunity to visit the Schloss Neuschwanstein castle shown on the right – defintely a must see.
First off, let me just say that their city was remarkably clean. When I say clean, I don’t mean a quick coat of fresh paint on a filthy wall clean, I mean truly neat and organized. I can honestly say that I did not see one person on any corner asking for a handout. There was no debris floating around the streets and graffiti didn’t plaster the walls of the buildings. I don’t litter personally, but if I did, it certainly wouldn’t be in this city … it would be like a coffee stain on a clean sheet of paper.
The architecture was amazing. There were no buildings above nine stories high, well with the exception of the BWW building and the Olympic tower, but very few. The streets had an overabundance of beautiful trees lining the roads, and the buildings in the Odeonsplatz were amazing to view. They reminded me of the old Roman buildings, filled with marble and tall columns. There was also a church I visited in the same area that was built around the sixteenth or seventeenth century that was one of the most beautiful (next to St. Peters, of course) that I think I’ve ever seen.
Another thing that really impressed me was how organized and efficient the city appeared. Now I may have taken two years of German in high school, but to say I speak German is like saying Spanglish is a legitimate language. That stated I did not have any difficulty getting around town. When I did happen to lose myself, I simply stopped a person in the street and asked ‘Sprechen sie Englisch?‘ Most people had a basic grasp of the language, but between the two broken parts we could come to a whole. I have to admit; due to my blonde appearance more than one person came up to me and started speaking German. Imagine their disappointment when I opened my mouth to reply.
It only took us a day to get acclimated to the time change and before long, we felt very comfortable roaming the city and exploring everything Munich had to offer. My only regret is that I didn’t get an opportunity to view a Bundesliga game. Munich is home of the FC Bayern Munchen. They were in town while we were there, but from what I understand, it is next to impossible to obtain a ticket. I guess it was best I didn’t end up going, they lost the game, but it still would have been quite the experience.
All in all, I would say to anyone curious about visiting Germany, I highly recommend going to Munich. The people were friendly, the city was beautiful to see, and there is obviously a lot of history to view and family friendly things to do. If you do go, make sure to enter a beer garden. We happened to go to quite a few while we were in town. I know what you might be thinking, but you brought you’re children. Don’t worry, they’re kid friendly. One even had a play zone. The beer is strong but delicious and the servings are plentiful. My favorite was the Hofbrauhaus. They even had a live oompa band performing in their lederhosen outfits … classic. Bottom line, would I go again, short answer yes. Ich bin ein fan of Munchen.