Commentary

January 25, 2013

Fly Over: ‘Broken City’, ‘Mistborn: The Final Empire’

In theaters:

Broken-City-Poster

‘Broken City’

Personally, I occasionally have a hard time following plots that involve politics or business, mostly due to all of the little technical details that get thrown around. Because of that, I can get disinterested fairly quickly while watching these movies.
Fortunately for Broken City, despite some of these same issues, its characters were enough for me to give it a chance.
The story follows Billy Taggart (Mark Wahlberg), a police officer turned private eye as a result of a public outcry against his supposedly criminal shooting of a local New Yorker.
Being aware of his “specialty” in tracking adulterous loved ones, Mayor Hostetler (Russell Crowe) hires Billy to follow his wife (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and uncover her affair, promising him the money he needs to pay his debts. New information soon begins to cross Billy’s desk, however, and he learns that there is much more going on than he had been told.
Something that surprised me about Broken City is that I had a much easier time following the plot points that were implied rather than those that were spelled out. This is due mostly to the scandal that serves as the main focus, which involved quite a few names and business/political dealings being thrown around.
It never got to the point where I was completely lost, but I did miss a few details at first because I didn’t catch a character’s name. Still, Billy’s personal story was very interesting, with much of his past never being overly stated and instead implied by the way he and others interacted.
With one or two exceptions, Mark Wahlberg does a fine job as Billy. What I enjoyed especially is how well he portrayed the “little guy” among the political powerhouses like the chief of police or the mayor.
Russell Crowe gives the mayor of New York some good dimension, being charismatic despite being far from a saint himself. Catherine Zeta-Jones does not get that much screen time, but she does all right in the scenes she was given.
As for some of the supporting cast, Alona Tal stands out as Billy’s assistant and the two have an enjoyable chemistry between them, but Jeffery Wright as the police commissioner seemed a little too intense; I began to wonder if his character ever blinked.
Despite my issues with the way the main plot was fleshed-out, the script was fairly solid if a bit long. With Billy and his assistant being a prime example, characters and their interactions with each other were very well written for the most part.
One glaring issue I had with Broken City, however, is its sudden jump of seven years after the introduction. This made it both a little jarring as well as a bit unbelievable. Aside from Billy becoming a private eye, not much seems to have changed for anyone in seven years.
Something else that bugged me was near the end, when the film decided to have some editing styles it didn’t have before.
Though the main plot could’ve used some work, the characters are still enjoyable enough to make this a good choice for anyone interested.
This film is rated R.

 
…..and in book stores

Mistborn-Cover

‘Mistborn: The Final Empire’

For many years, Robert Jordan was my favorite author. So when I heard that he was dying, I was grief stricken. One, for the passing of a great author and two, because he hadn’t finished his “Wheel of Time” series yet.
I found out that Robert had chosen another author to continue his book series and finish it for him. Who was the person that would take up the great works of a master; Brandon Sanderson. My thought was if he was going to take this on, he’d better be good.
I picked up the first book, “Elantris,” and the next thing I knew, I’d finished a book that had transported me to another world. I loved it. I was hooked on Brandon Sanderson.
Soon after, I went to his website to look at what was next on the list. That’s when I found “Mistborn: The Final Empire.” It was the first book in a trilogy, but now there is a fourth set in the same world.
The story takes place a thousand years ago in a world where a young hero rises up to defeat a darkness threatening the world but loses. Now the world is a wasteland covered in ash and controlled by a ruthless leader known as the Lord Ruler.
I picked up the next book in Sanderson’s repertoire and jumped right in.
Introduced to the dashing rogue Kelsier, I was quickly enthralled with his group of magical varlets, all Mistings, who are Allomancers or people able to burn a specific metal inside their bodies to produce external effects such as pushing other metals around or altering people’s emotions.
His crew includes Sazed, his confidant, who is able to store his own physical and mental abilities away until he needs them, and Vin, an orphaned girl and a Mistborn. Mistborn are people able to burn not just one, but all of the known Allomantic metals at once.
The book revolves around Kelsier, a Mistborn as well, and his crew attempting to do what no one in history has been able to do — steal the Lord Ruler’s own wealth from him and use it to bribe his army away him. If they can find a way to kill him along the way so much better.
To do this, he trains Vin in the use of her powers while working behind the scenes with others to get things into place for the main event.
Sanderson uses a mixture of comedy and wit to give you empathy for the characters. You come to care for them and the world they are trying to save.
“Mistborn: The Final Empire” is a thrilling mix of a heist story, fantasy and kung fu all in one novel. The characters aren’t just going along; they are shaping the events around them.
Following along with their exploits is a rollercoaster ride full of thrills, intrigue, plans within plans and unexpected twists, especially toward the end when … wait, I can’t give that away!
I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy novels, movies like “Ocean’s Eleven” or a good role playing game.




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