21 September 2015

Oh My Stars ...

So, I was on the plane to Dubai, and on the inflight entertainment was a film called "Funf Freund 4". And it name checked Enid. So OF COURSE I had to watch it.
So as far as the characters are concerned, our core group is much as it ever was (although I'm not sure how old each of the Kirrin siblings is meant to be - and how far apart they were born - they all look about the same age). But after that, well, not so much.
Because I love you all, I just had to share the whole ordeal with you.
We start with a Kitschy scene in an Egyptian market. There’s a street rat street ratting, and a nice fruit stall owner who goes for a walk and gets kidnapped by men in black robes, because DRAMA. And apparently he’s to be used as leverage to make someone do something.

With the three Kirrins’ dad Bernard for the hols (this being film four, the actor playing Uncle Quentin may have been done with this crap – I don’t see any reference to Bernard in the previous films), the kids see a preview of his new Egypt  exhibition with his pretty assistant Elena (and Dick and Julian flirting with the pretty lady is bad acting even if I don’t speak a word of German), including a 5000 year old mummy king. After locking the museum (with a plain handonmyheart house key) Anne forgets her glasses and they go back to get them, only to find a black hooded figure cutting  the mummy's  head open. The figure gets away, but the kids dig into the head  (I swear  I'm  not making this up - they dig into the head with their fingers) and find a legendary  amulet. One of three such amulets, presumably all inside brother mummy's heads. For some reason, it becomes imperative for them all to go to Egypt. By the way, no one is upset about the desecration of the mummy, they just congratulate the brats on finding the amulet …

So off they go. At the antiquities place, they find the head guy Farouk, who has one of the two other mummies said to have an amulet inside, and when he quite reasonably object  to cutting a 5000 year old mummy open, Bernard sends the kids off for his portable ultrasound which he always carries (and WHYWHYWHY DIDN'T YOU  DISCOVER  THE FIRST  AMULET WITH YOUR HANDY PORTABLE ULTRASOUND DEVICE?) The kids get pickpocketed by a street rat their age, and when they go back to the antiquities place, they find someone already cut the mummy’s head open, stole the amulet and framed Bernard, who is arrested for it.

Apparently, their only hope is to find the amulets, and also somehow they end up on the lamb from the German consulate (apparently - one handy thing about this story is that all the baddies either wear distinctive hoods or an item emblazoned with this HUGE ugly stylised bull – no one ever explains why a bull) who want to (quite reasonably) send the unaccompanied minors home. They go to pretty assistant Elena's house (she's Egyptian? When did anyone ever say she was Egyptian?) and find out her father is on holidays before the consulate dude shows up and chases them across rooftops, with Timmy barking inappropriately loudly.

They get away. They team  up with street rat kid, who has a crush on George, sneak into a billionaire's  party to steals the third amulet (wearing the worst disguises ever) only to have black robe people  steal the amulet first. Street rat picks the black robe’s pocket, and they scram, only  to be caught by the police, who are also in league with the bull people. They hand over the amulet and then set the police van on fire with the kids and Timmy in it. And sit back to watch the barbeque, laughing. Because they are all evil like that.

Now, you know law enforcement  has a problem when 4 kids (interestingly, George sits back and doesn't  help) can kick open the door to a paddy van. Baddies watch it explode from the front, kids disappear from behind. Fortunately, street rat knows a) super secret location of where shit is going to go down (which they conveniently overheard) and b) that Elena's father is missing, not on holidays (which seems to have no bearing on things right now).  He gets them camels to travel to super secret location, which they manage to lose in an hour or so, and so instead of heading back to the city and getting alternative  means of travel, our blockheads walk into the desert with no water. I swear, the best moment of the whole damn movie was when they decided to lay down in the desert and die. Timmy pulls a lassie and gets help from two old guys in a jeep, who take them to super secret location (which is only an hour away).

They get to super secret  location, and there's  this ritual going on. So at this point I though this was going to be actually interesting – like Famous Five go supernatural. I thought this whole conspiracy  was all about raising a mummy or something mystical like that. But no, the whole shebang, the robes, the rituals, the chant (yes they have a chant) is just so they can loot the tomb.


There's  unnecessarily dramatic  revelation  that Elena was involved, because of course it was her father kidnapped to get her help in finding amulets. Then they're  all left in a room with a stone roof descending  to squash them.  They get out, trap the baddies, save Timmy (who was in a cage about to be fed to the spirits – again I say ???), then get away with the amulets to save Bernard, who was being tried 2 days after being arrested.

Look, I know some people have a dim view of Egyptian justice, but really?

Oh, and it turns out that Bernard's lawyer was also a bull person. They catch the baddie, blah blah blah, George  has a romantic moment  with street rat, everyone goes home.

I think I died a little on the inside.

Here's  my problems.

1. Modernising Enid  is not a terrible idea per se, but this was ridiculous. If was modernising without all the pesky modern things like mobile phones or other relevant  technology. Only street rat had a mobile, super secret location was well known and in all likelihood was on a map app. Security all round was pretty primitive, which was often handy for our intrepid heroes. I hate when modernising stories leaves out reality for the sake of plot. Modernise or don't; you can't have it both ways.

2. It wasn't  a good Famous Five story.  It was way too sentimental (Enid would definitely not approve of the emotion, and certainly not anything like a love interest), the Five were way too stupid to live, and there wasn't  enough glory at the end for the Five. Not to mention that it takes place OUTSIDE ENGLAND! How could it betray the motherland like that?

3. It wasn't  a good NOT Famous Five story. As a story it made no sense, it was painful to watch and i hated  it. And I  know it's  a German kid's  movie, but why did EVERYONE have to speak German?

4. It was bad Enid. The goodies were GERMAN! Black mark right  there. Not a single solid Englishman in the whole thing. It was ALL foreigners. And it was set in Egypt, which is probably very unhygienic. And Egyptians  were goodies AND baddies ... I  think Enid's head would explode from such a break  in stereotype (nuance – what is that?).  And a foreign  love interest? Not to be thought of.

I'll  have to look this series up now ...

31 August 2015

Insipidity Abounds

Well, I think I figured out part of the reason I never wrote about this chapter. You know, other than my laziness and procrastination reaching epic proportions. It’s BORING! I struggled to wring any snarky comments out of myself in relation to this chapter. It’s just so BLAH! But I can’t skip it just to get to my favourite hobby-horses of this book, which is a shame. So here we go.

Only three things happen:
  •  Elizabeth, feeling the pangs of conformity lost when abandoned by the right thinking majority after the meeting, happens to meet Mr Lewis, the probably-not-a-molester music teacher
  • Enid shows Elizabeth how truly wonderful Whyteleafe Prison is, as it is the school Enid should have attended had the had proper parents who knew what Enid deserved.
  • Elizabeth nevertheless continues her reign of terror over the easily horrified students and staff of Whyteleafe Prison.

And none of it is particularly interesting.

Let’s review each point properly, you know, since we’re here anyway.

Probably-not-a-molester Mr Lewis. Elizabeth, from whom the upstanding students of Whyteleafe flee, like good little sheep, decides to go to play the piano for a while. Which, it turns out, she is very good at (note this, I have a rant in me on the subject of Elizabeth’s perfections). She comes to a “little room” which I assume is a room to which children regularly have access, to find Mr Lewis playing the piano. Now this bothers me a little for the following reason: It’s his time off. I know a few teachers, and they guard their breaks quite zealously. I would assume a school like this would have had a separate teachers only area in which Mr Lewis might play in peace and not be disturbed.

Anyway, after establishing that Elizabeth is to have lessons with him, they decide that he can give her a lesson now, even though she mentions she’s leaving. The lesson consists of her playing a couple of pieces she already knows and him “tapping his foot” while she plays. He also manages to sound like he couldn’t give the smallest … daily bowel movement … about anything she has to say, all “dear me”’s and other non-statements which read as though he’s not even listening. I suppose he’s meant to come across as wise and kind, but I refuse to bow to Enid’s lazy implied characterisation.

The reason I call Mr Lewis “probably not a molester” is because he manages to also (in addition to his uninterested demeanour) convey a slightly creepy vibe to the adult reader. “You will be one of my best pupils” and “you must really be a very bad little girl” in their context in the story can be innocuous, but have those vague undertones of grooming … but unfortunately not enough for me to really make anything of them.

You see why I hate this chapter. I try, but there is just nothing to work with. And if there were material to work with, what fun we could have!

The second part is Enid school porn. There’s the glory that is Whyteleafe. Blah Blah Blah. It’s a list. You can escape to the village in groups, you can go to the cinema, you can go riding every day. There’s music concerts, there’s a dance every week … It sounds like one of those summer camps – like in Dirty Dancing.

Oh dear, I just tried to picture Elizabeth as Baby. No … just no.

Also, by the by, there is the possibility of friendship For Elizabeth. Joan tries to make friends with Elizabeth, and gets rejected. I tell you I have a rant coming up about that  … but not yet.

Anyway, with all the glories of Whyteleafe, Elizabeth is determined to be naughty. She puts a cat in the teacher’s desk ( … I can’t even), she turns the clock in the classroom back 10 minutes to miss arithmetic, she gets sent out of class regularly. Ho hum. Enid really isn't trying here. What does bother me is the fact that all the children laugh at her tricks, then complain about how tiresome they are. YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. If you laugh, you are complicit … but I’m still not worked up enough to rant. There are a couple in me, but just not today.

Elizabeth caps her naughtiness off by going to the village ALONE. But only after she tried to be good and everyone told her to go away. Ruth in particular, feeling her precarious social standing, makes it clear that  she won’t be seen with someone who “doesn't know how to behave in the road”. Now, beside the awkward phrasing, what is this road etiquette? Is she afraid that Elizabeth will moon  cars, or play chicken with a driver? They are walking down a road! What can possibly go wrong?
Anyway, that’s it really. This mediocre chapter is brought to an end when Elizabeth is caught by the head girl. I promise there’s a rant there. My sincere apologies for the lacklustre return, but this chapter is like reheated potatoes – floury and cold in the centre.

Next time: Why gossiping is NEVER acceptable behaviour and a prelude to my major squick with this book! Stick with me, people, good times are coming!

26 August 2015

... yeah

So ... been a while, right?

It's unbelievable. You blink and nearly three years pass. My current Blyton under review followed me around like Banquo's ghost, silently accusing from bedside tables, suitcases and bookshelves, until I buried it somewhere in amongst my books.

However, as my books have been in storage for the better part of the past year, I have had to concede that if I want to continue to the end of this book (as has always been my intention) I would have to bite the bullet and get a new version. So I bought one on my tablet.

My whole being revolted against it. Even as I confirmed the purchase my Blyton-loving soul recoiled from the modern cover. I mean, really, the book is littered with these modern artist renderings of scenes in the book, while the prose remains steadfastly set mid-last century. It's jarring and hurts my poor little sense of the fitness of things.

Anyway, this post is just a heads up that I am coming back to this - and I'll finish it. AND I'm taking requests as to what to read/review next. A very kind friend has promised me a box of Blytons ... is it ridiculous that this is some of most exiting news I have had this year?