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on May 22, 2001
"Moving Pictures", while not in and of itself and weak book, is one of the lesser entries in the Discworld series. It's first half is anchored more by parody -- which Pratchett uses sparsely and to great effect in the other books -- than by satire -- which is Pratchett's real strength, and the thing that gives the other books their weight. The parody manifests itself in Pratchett's doppelganger depiction of the American movie industry. He gets the characters just right (e.g., an egomaniacal film producer, a talking dog who fancies himself an agent, and leading actors who are vacuous and mundane once the camera stops rolling), but the cheekiness of the situations he presents come off as rather cheesy.
There are too many mangled quotations from famous movies, such as a dog inquiring "What's up, duck?", or a lady troll remarking, on an old-fashioned mating ritual, that "a brick on the head could be quite complimentary, but diamonds are a girl's best friend." And the epic being made in the book's middle-third section is about a civil war, a city burning in flames, and the love between a stuck-up Southern Belle and an older distinguished gentleman. When pressed for a title, the film's producer thinks it should having to do with wind, and finally comes up with... 'Blown Away'. The setup to that inconsequential joke was too long to be funny.
Although I should note that not all of the film parodies are hokey. At one point a giant woman carries an ape in her hand as she climbs a tall building, and all regret that they don't have a camera rolling to catch the scene. And a golden statue of a bald man holding a sword "looks just like my Uncle Oswald!" Pratchett has some fun with his jokes, but I just found there to be too many of them. They were distracting.
Another problem is that the ending just takes too long to unravel. There are myriads of subplots that need to be resolved, some introduced during the final encounter itself and further complicating things. Keeping this story simple would have been a good idea. Terry tended to let it get away from him.
The final problem I noticed was that the romantic leads, Victor and Ginger, lacked any heat. Terry seemed to rely on the reader's assumption that since they were the main male and female characters, then love would naturally bloom. He did little to develop this idea, but consistently allowed its possibility to seep into the narrative.
All that being said, there were some interesting aspects to the book. A strong point is made about the strength of movie magic (especially in comparison with the Discworld's "real" magic). Although a tad underdeveloped, the idea that people are unconsciously drawn to "Holy Wood" was a thoughtful take on the power of the imagination. And the continuing growth of the character of the Librarian (for the uninitiated, he is a former wizard magically transformed into an orangutan... and perfectly happy to stay that way!) is a joy to watch. Even though he can say nothing more than "Ook", he is consistently the most sensible and conscientious character in any Discworld book, using his logic and reason to save the day.
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on April 26, 1999
I have read lots of Pratchetts and the formula's beginning to wear thin. I don't laugh out loud like I used to. I will confess though that the book does have one scene that keeps tangoing in my iimagination --- that of a giant woman climbing up a tower with a screaming ape... if you want to introduce yourself to Pratchett, read Soul Music or anything with the character Rincewind instead.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 7, 2003
Moving Pictures is a delightful farce that introduces us to some of the Discworld's most interesting citizens. The evil forces of Holy Wood have lain buried under the sand for countless generations, but then, in the kind of luck typical of life on the Discworld, the guardian is rendered incapable of guarding the power. As the non-wizard magic of Holy Wood quickly escapes from its timeless sleep, inhabitants from all over the Discworld find themselves drawn to the spot out in the middle of nowhere, and they all want to be a part of the new moving pictures (or clickies) business. The alchemists delight in sidestepping the authority of wizards by coming up with some non-wizard magic of their own. To make a clickie, you just need a box full of little imps, and when you turn the handle the imps draw what they see in front of them, and they do it very quickly because there are whips connected to the turning handle. Most people have a hard time figuring out just what these clickies are and how they work, but the citizens of Ankh-Morpork instantly fall in love with them, lining up in droves for the chance to see little five-minute long, soundless clickies of historical and educational interests-at first. Then none other than Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler, famed salesmen of sausage in a bun and other pseudo-culinary tidbits (whose fame comes from the fact that he can actually sell his sausages in a bun to people on more than one occasion) gets the calling, basically takes over the whole business, and starts making epics filled with danger and fighting and romance, some of them taking the better part of a whole day to film. The milkmaid Ginger and Victor Tugelbend (a student wizard who is generally acknowledged to be the laziest person on the Discworld) find themselves the leading lady and man of cinema and they are the first to figure out that something is terribly wrong in Holy Wood. Holy Wood magic is not really real, and what it is actually doing is wearing away the barrier between reality, always in rather short supply on the Discworld, and the Dungeon Dimensions, where all kinds of terrible entities sit waiting to come in. The first person to really figure out the danger is not a person at all, but rather Gaspode the Wonder Dog (not to be confused with the ingratiatingly obedient and thus wildly popular Laddie the Wonder Dog). He's a mangy little mutt of a dog really, but he does something most dogs can't do-he talks. He talks a lot, grumbling about life as a talking dog and constantly warning Victor about all the "boding" going on up on the hill. Well, things all come to a head when Dibbler makes the most lavish moving picture ever, Discworld's version of Gone With the Wind, and the evil that Victor, Ginger, Gaspode, and the Librarian must ultimately contest is a Lovecraftian being from the outside, with all kinds of tentacles and other nasty bits.

There are more unforgettable characters in this novel than I can describe here. For me, though, the senior wizards pretty much steal the show. After seeing a poster of the scantily-clad Ginger's newest and biggest movie, they decide that they need to find out what all this clickies nonsense is about. Of course, they can't let anyone know they are wizards so they come up with the brilliant idea of putting wire in their beards to make them look like fake beards (ingenious, really, in my opinion). A special delight is old Windle Poons; he may be the oldest, most deaf wizard still alive, but he behaves quite like a youngster when he goes out on the town. This tenth book in the Discworld series sorts of takes the reader in a new direction, centering on brand new characters but incorporating a few familiar faces that manage to keep things lively from start to finish. Looking back, it may have dragged a little in the middle, and the ending wasn't overly spectacular, but it was a pure joy to read. There is wit galore here but not too much satire, making this a fairly carefree book to be read strictly for the pleasure of it. There are numerous references to popular films, and I was really delighted to see Pratchett give the horrors from the Dungeon Dimensions an obvious Cthulhuian cast. Moving Pictures would be a great book with which to introduce yourself to the Discworld universe; you can enjoy it immensely without having read the previous nine books, and there are laughs to be found on every single page.
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on August 21, 2002
This is the tenth book in Terry Pratchett's series on the Discworld--a flat world, supported on the back of four massive elephants riding on the back of a planet-sized turtle, anything hilarious can happen here, and eventually does. When the last Keeper of the Door dies, there is no one left to remember, and the idea must be remembered. So, the idea seeks to break back into the Discworld, the idea of Holy Wood.
First the alchemists of Anhk-Morpork discover a way to make moving pictures, and then "Cut-me-own Throat" Dibbler discovers the idea of being a movie mogul, then Victor Tugelbend and Ginger Withal discover the idea of being a star. And so, the dream of Holy Wood begins to awaken...but, could that dream be a nightmare beyond anyone's understanding?
As always, Terry Pratchett is the master of telling a story that is both gripping and hilariously funny. Indeed, while reading this book I woke my charming wife up several times, laughing out loud! The author succeeds in keeping multiple storylines on track and easy to understand, and the book zooms along to its finale, and boy is it a funny one. I loved this book, and highly recommend it to you!
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on April 5, 1999
I have read 10 of Terry's books so far, and they have never failed to please. This book is no exception. Moving Pictures is a masterpiece; a great achievement even by Terry's standards. As the title of my review implies, it is no less than splendid. I would say that it is as engaging and interesting as the best of movies ( excuse the pun) The jokes (especially the King Kong one) are apt, and Gaspode is one cool character. I really recommend this book, not only because of its numerous jokes and parodies, but also because it does offer an insider's, as well as Terry's own views, on movie-making. All in all, a downright cool book.
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on August 2, 1999
One word: Hillarious. I read this book after readig about Gaspode's other antics with Angua and such, and this tied up a lot of loose ends about him. this is one of Pratchett's better books not belonging to any of the discworld mini series. CMOT, as usual was great (even though why he called himself "throat" in this book is beyond me), and the wizards, as usual, were one of the most entertaining parts of the book.
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on October 23, 1998
I haven't really read anything of Terry Pratchett, but a copy of this book was given to me, and I loved it! It was great...hilarious! I liked the "banged grains." If this is Terry Pratchett's worst novel, I'm already reading his others. Absolutly fabulous. Terry Pratchett has a way with creating humorous characters. A wonderful book. If you want to laugh, read this.
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on July 18, 1999
I deeply enjoyed Pratchett's way of stabbing at and making fun of America's No. 1 dream factory. Nice one, T.P.!!
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Classic Terry Pratchett. A fun, witty spoof on Hollywood. What more is there to say?
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on December 28, 2001
a spectualar novel! Satre, ironic, Fantasy and a lot more.
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