All entries for Monday 16 May 2005

May 16, 2005

2001 B.C.: A Time Odyssey

4 out of 5 stars

Time's Eye is the first novel in the Time Odyssey series. According to the authors, this series doesn't run parallel to the Space Odyssey, but rather orthogonal (at right-angles, for all non-mathematicians). Though I have yet to find any reference to HAL and Dave Bowman. However, the classic line "But he would think of something." is back and promises to lead us into a great series.

The book deals with a sudden congregation of earth's history. Mongols, Macedonians, Colonial British and 21st Century UN soldiers, all find themselves thrown together on a world renamed "MIR". if only that were all. Everywhere the book takes us, there are hovering "Eyes" that appear to be watching everything that these (involuntary) timetravellers do.

The book is filled with the latest ideas in science about the nature of the universe. Although it makes for an interesting read, the explanations are far too short to be understood by the casual reader and many will find themselves skipping over them. Not a problem, the book has far more to offer than just maths. It is a very detailed and (from what I've heard, read and seen) a very accurate account of the respective time periods. Much of the book is spent on explaining military routines and rituals and the book seems to focus on war, but then that's hardly surprising, given earth's history.

Though not exactly a compulsory page-turner, this book is very gripping. I'm not sure in what relationship the two authors wrote this book, but this "Odyssey" series will be a much more mainstream read. Where 2001 was very arty and thought-provoking, this book will certainly appeal to a wider range of readers.

The book is well written, with just enough descriptive imagery to bring the ancient worlds to life. The story is paced and gripping. The dialogue is quirky with a mix of modern and 19th century british slang.

All in all this is a very good book and I'm already eagerly anticipating the second book, which I hope will clear up a few of the mysteries with which the book leaves you. Recommended to everyone.

Confusing remake, but powerful performance

3 out of 5 stars

This film is a remake and not a great one at that. The original was set in the vietnam war, with the chinese as "The Enemy". This modern version is set against the backdrop of the Gulf War and this time "The Enemy" is not communism but rather capitalism. This irony, however, will be lost on anyone who watches the film. The idea of a large multinational company trying to control the government to extend its influence over the world is now quite common-place. As such, once you have figured out the background story, the plot becomes fairly predictable.

The same, however, cannot be said for the acting. Denzel Washington and Liev Schreiber give powerful performances, ranging from anger over fear to sheer hopelessness. Their characters are portrayed with raw emotion giving us an insight into the emotional cocktail brewing inside them throughout the movie.

I must say, I found the film confusing at times unable to follow the reasoning behind certain character decisions. It felt in part as if bits of the film had been left out after editing that were vital to the storyline.

Though this film is powerful and dramatic, it's rather dull in terms of plot and thrill. The only upside is that I now want to watch the original.

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