The first edition of Complete Idiot's Guide to Bridge by H. Anthony Medley was the fastest selling beginning bridge book, going through more than 10 printings. This updated Second Edition includes some modern advanced bidding systems and conventions, like Two over One, a system used by many modern tournament players, Roman Key Card Blackwood, New Minor Forcing, Reverse Drury, Forcing No Trump, and others. Also included is a detailed Guide to Bids and Responses, along with the most detailed, 12-page Glossary ever published, as well as examples to make learning the game even easier. Click book to order.  

Journey to the Center of the Earth (8/10)

by Tony Medley

I’m not a big fan of remakes, but this often-made story of a Jules Verne classic is one that cried to be remade due to the tremendous advances in technology. I saw the first 3-D film in 1952, “Bwana Devil,” and even at that young age I realized it wasn’t much of a film. Lots of people probably don’t realize that 1953’s “Hondo,” and “Kiss Me Kate,” and Hitchcock’s 1954 “Dial M For Murder,” were released in 3-D, so there were some good films that were made using the technique. The new ones that have been made using the technology have been horrible, witness 2006’s “Beowulf,” which was mostly animated.

If “Journey” is an example of what 3-D can do for a movie, I’m looking forward to everything being in 3-D. One thing I want to add, however, especially for those who endured “Beowulf,” the glasses that are distributed with “Journey” are very comfortable. The ones I got with “Beowulf” were so uncomfortable that I had to take them off, even if I missed the effect, to relieve the pain caused by the glasses. My guest gave up and watched the entire film in 2-D without the glasses. “Journey’s” new glasses, to the contrary, are so unobtrusive and comfortable you quickly forget you have them on. They fit over your prescription glasses if you wear them.

There are the usual 3-D gimmicks, with things flying out at the audience, so realistic they make you flinch, even though you are expecting them. But what is wonderful is that the film is not a gimmick. The 3-D greatly enhances what is a good film without the added effect. If the industry can get the proper equipment into the theaters 3-D could really make it. The problem is that only a small percentage of theaters have the digital equipment required and it is enormously expensive, like $150,000 per screen. Right now only 800 theaters have the capability to show this film in 3-D. So Warner Bros. is releasing it in both 3-D and 2-D (on around 2,000 screens).

The story is the same simple one; Trevor Anderson (Brendan Fraser), his nephew, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) and Hannah Àsgeirsson (Anita Briem, a real beauty) are thrust into a cave and travel to the center of the earth in search of Trevor’s brother, Sean’s father. They have all sorts of adventures and calamities, most of which are created using 21st Century special effects. As most readers know, I’m not a fan of special effects, but these are wonderful. And they are even better in 3-D.

There’s no more to the story than that, so there’s no need to go into it further. Fraser gives his usual good performance. He is so enthusiastic that he said, “Anything is possible today with CGI. If you can imagine it, you can do it. I’ve never been more excited about any movie I’ve ever made.”

Briem is as good an actress as she is beautiful. But the person who really stole the show for me was Hutcherson, now 15. He was in the deplorable Robin Williams 2006 attempt at comedy, “RV,” but gave another exceptional performance in 2005’s “Zathura: A Space Adventure.” His performance here is award-quality. Clearly not from the Sean Penn School of Acting, he can even cry real tears on cue. This is my kind of guy!

Despite the modern technology, this is an old-fashioned movie so full of fun that I came out with a broad smile on my face. And that’s the ultimate test of a winner. If you have to drive a few more miles to see it in 3-D, it’s well worth the trip.

July 8, 2008