Fantasy Review: ‘Moving Pictures’ by Terry Pratchett

 Part ten of the Complete Discworld Reread

Wow, what a slog.  When I started this reread I was wondering how a couple of those I had ignored would read a second time around, with “Moving Pictures” being my biggest fear.  On this occasion my memory was correct, this may be the weakest Pratchett book until the football one released a few years back.

Now don’t get me wrong, even a bad Pratchett book is worth reading, and this wasn’t a complete waste of time.  As per the usual, some of the humor hits hard (I was particularly fond of trolls worried about being typecast into a only a few roles).  And it also has a better than average over all storyline; a strong setup, decent pacing, and a very good conclusion.  So why did I struggle so much with it?  Lots, and lots of “easy” jokes that just twist around Hollywood titles, often without much creativity.

Follow the yellow sick toad.  What’s up, Duck? Play it again, Sham.  These are the things that dragged the story down throughout, and were all too common.  Not all were misses, when you throw everything at the wall some will stick; I caught references to Merchant in Venice and King Kong that were a bit more subtle (and a King Kong reference that was not so subtle). 

Oh, the book is about the making of movies in Discworld.  The alchemists who discover the process move to a small area called Holy Wood, where people are irresistibly drawn to in droves.  Some kind of greater magic is in place, and in some ways the films start making themselves, going in directions the actors and directors don’t expect.  Wizard’s apprentice turn actor Victor learns that for many years there were guardians to keep reality in check, but the last one’s death left a void, letting Holy Wood’s magic come through to mess with reality.

The real star of this story is Cut my own throat Dibbler, in his largest role to date.  Drawn to any money making scheme he can find, his escalation of everything in Holy Wood was what really kept me going.  Constant attempts to force advertising into pictures made me laugh every time.  The book also finally settled the Unseen University’s revolving door of Archchancellors, with Ridcully settling in quickly.  Gaspode  makes his first appearance, and the talking dog doesn’t disappoint.  There is a reason I am not talking about the main protagonists, Victor and Ginger; they were boring characters and I am not surprised they don’t show in any more books.

I guess I am being hard on this book.  The bad puns were not all that funny to me, but others may enjoy them more.  The story itself is pretty solid, and the more I think about the ending I realize it was very strong.  But if I, admitted Pratchett fanboy, struggle through a book of his I have to go with my gut.

3 stars.  For film buffs and huge Pratchett fans only.  I would hate for someone to read this and decide that Pratchett isn’t for them.  

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