Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Unforgotten Coat Review

Book talk: In a few short months, Julie will graduate and all her friends will scatter to new schools.  But their elementary school has one last surprise waiting for them before they go.  When Chingis and Nergui show up to class in their thick fur coats with the sun beating down outside, everyone is intrigued.  Then, the teacher asks Nergui to remove his hat and Chingis responds that his brother is like an eagle calmed by a hood, and removing his hat would have disastrous results.  These new kids are clearly not their average classmates and everyone wants to get to know them.  Julie is the one they pick as their guide though, and she takes her responsibilities seriously.  But something is wrong with the brothers.  Chingis claims that a demon is chasing his brother--how could that possibly be true?  Julie's seen plenty of strange things since the brothers showed up in her life though, and something clearly has them spooked.  Perhaps there really is a demon chasing them after all.

Rocks my socks: It's refreshing to see such a humorous and engrossing book dealing with such a serious topic.  Not only does it highlight issues around adapting to a new culture, it eventually becomes clear that Chingis and Nergui are illegal immigrants.  The book is so funny and quick though that the reader is already engaged with the characters by the time this is revealed and so it will appeal to plenty of kids who would otherwise shy away from issues fiction.  I'm reading this to my other third grade class right now and they are enjoying it--especially the Polaroid pictures throughout (although I did have to explain what those were.)  They're also learning a little about Mongolian culture along the way which I am at least finding fascinating and isn't commonly explored in juvenile fiction (or western fiction in general.)  The book was apparently inspired by a student in the first class Boyce made an author visit to and it has a very authentic feel.  The narrator is looking back on the incident as an adult, which allows Boyce to tell a story that has impact without leaving the readers on an uncertain and dark note.

Rocks in my socks: It took me a while to figure out that Chingis is another spelling of Genghis so Chingis is named after Genghis Khan.  I wish there had been some sort of note about it.  A pronunciation guide for the Mongolian words would have also been much appreciated and perhaps a glossary as well.  Nothing makes me happier than good back matter!

Every book its reader: While I think it's fine for reading aloud to 3rd and 4th grade I'm not sure I'd give it to a student of that age to read on their own so that there's someone they can talk to when the immigration issues come up.  The Mongolian words clearly will be new vocabulary for most students, but other than that the word are pretty easy.  The book is short with pictures throughout but it is high interest and features students at the end of year six so it'd be a good book to give to 5th and 6th graders who are not strong readers.

The Unforgotten Coat by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Buy it or check it out today!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Robe of Skulls Review

Book talk: The Lady Lamorna wants nothing more than a beautifully hideous new dress.  A dress with skulls all along the hem and a motif of poison ivy and spiders' webs with blood-red petticoats.  There is only one problem: her supply of gold is running a bit short.  So she conceives of a wonderfully awful plan to turn the princes of the neighboring kingdoms into frogs and then offer the grieved parents her services in returning them to their royal selves--services that will cost enough to refill her money chest.  Obstacles crop up from the oddest places however--trueheart Gracie Gillypot running away from her step father, Gracie's evil step-sister whose bright beauty contains dark secrets, a fast-talking bat who runs errands for the Ancient Crones, and even from one of the princes who Lady Lamorna is seeking to curse.  But anyone who comes between the quick-tempered lady and her robe of skulls does so at their own risk.

Rocks my socks: I love the dark humour of this book and its fairy tale feel.  There's the evil sorceress, the dim-witted lackey, the kind daughter abused by a step-father and step-sister after her parents' death, the prince who meets up with her. I like the prince character a lot.  He's one of a pair of twins and unlike the sloppy twin characterizations I see so often in fiction the two princes have very different personalities.  My favorite character though is of course the bat--a morally ambiguous smooth talker.  I'm reading this to a third grade class right now and they're loving it.  One girl even told me excitedly that she's reading the third book despite the fact that we haven't finished the first yet.  I'm loving reading it aloud too.  There are very few adult male characters, which are the hardest for me, and I love doing my evil sorceress voice because I love playing villains although with my looks I was never cast in a villainous role and doubt I ever will be.  I love doing the bat too, with his fast-talking and the ogre lackey who thankfully has very few lines because I use a rough, gravelly voice that'd destroy my throat if I had to do too much of it.  Overall we're all having fun with this book.

Rocks in my socks: The book is mostly made up of two dimensional stock characters, but this doesn't bug me too much because it seems like a natural fit for the fairy tale feel of the novel. It's more like the original Grimm tales than the modern retellings (that I also love) that delve more into the characters.  The pacing is also a bit fast for my tastes--I prefer my stories to linger in ruminations and descriptions a bit longer.  However, it is precisely because of this quality that I chose it as a read-aloud so I can't be too annoyed at it.

Every book its reader: I'd give this to third and fourth graders looking for a fast-paced fairy tale style story.  This is also good to give to kids of that age looking for a scary story because while the cover will get their interest it's really more dark humor than horror so it's not too scary or violent.  Anyone looking for a darker brand of humor like Lemony Snicket fans will also be pleased.  

The Robe of Skulls by Vivian French

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Nick Cage Double Feature: Part II

The next Nick Cage movie I decided to watch also has a young actor that I have a crush on after seeing him in the wonderful movie The Trotsky. Seriously, you should watch that movie instead because it is very well done and hilarious.  I'll tell you all about Sorcerer's Apprentice so that you can skip it and just watch The Trotsky again instead.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice movie poster
The premise of this movie is that Merlin had three apprentices: Nick Cage, Nick Cage's Love Interest, and Nick Cage's Enemy.  One of them clearly ended up being a traitor.  He sided with the much maligned Morgan Le Fey, also from Arhturian lore.  Nick Cage's love interest stopped Morgan by sucking her into her own body.  That gave her indigestion though and she wasn't sure how long she'd be able to keep her there so she asked Nick Cage to trap them both inside a Russian nesting doll until he could deal with it later. Nick Cage then spent a couple centuries tracking down other baddies and locking them in the nesting doll and waiting for an apprentice to appear.
Nick Cage is stranger than fiction
Flash forward to ten years before the present when an adorable geeky boy is trying to impress a girl by drawing King Kong on a bus window that eventually lines up with the Empire State Building.  He writes her a note asking her to check a box: friend or girlfriend?
Conveniently he draws it so everything lines up precisely...clearly this boy is magic
But the note gets blown into Nick Cage's antiques shop.  Baby Trotsky says it's just a coincidence but Nick Cage does not believe in coincidences.  You can tell that this is a movie that doesn't take itself too seriously from the beginning, which I appreciate.  Nick Cage calls the boy by name and when the boy asks about it he says that he can read minds in a scary voice then admits that he read it off his backpack.  This is something I've done before with kids who forget they're wearing name tags.  So, Nick Cage gets Baby Trotsky to try on Merlin's magic ring and sure enough it comes to life and then wraps itself around his finger.
It's alive!
Nick Cage leaves the boy alone and jinxes him by saying not to touch anything while he's gone.  Naturally he knocks over the Russian Nesting Doll which unleashes Nick Cage's enemy and a lot of bugs in case we've forgotten that he's the bad guy.  Nick Cage returns and they battle in the classic wizard style of force waves with a bit of remote magical swordplay for good measure because watching magical force wizard battles is boring *ahemHP7ahem*
Unnecessary sword fight FTW!
Eventually they both get sucked into a magical urn that apparently keeps people captive for ten years.  Meanwhile Baby Trotsky is stupid enough to tell his teacher what he's just seen so they think he's crazy and he ends up needing to transfer schools.  Ten years later he's in college and he has an amusing roommate who isn't in the movie enough and is telling him that he needs to get out more via an admittedly creepy metaphor involving wolves.  Apparently if Trotsky doesn't participate in the pack more he will be killed.  Because clearly if you're an introvert you don't deserve to live.  On second thought, maybe it's for the best he isn't in the movie more.
Are you in or out?
Trotsky then goes to class (which he apparently ditches for the rest of the movie) where his papers are blown to the floor so that the filmmakers have an excuse to reintroduce his love interest now that she's an adult and it's not creepy to sexualize her.  Seriously, both Trostky and the audience see her long legs covered in lacy tights before we see her face.  Because that's clearly the more important part of her.
Spoiler alert: this movie does not pass the Bechdel test
They get all caught up and it's revealed that naturally, Legs is bad at physics and could use a tutor but she totally loves music.  Trotsky walks her back to the radio station where the antenna isn't working.  He fixes it because as a boy he is good at engineering apparently.  She thanks him for saving the music and they share a moment.
I always depend on the kindness of geeks to fix my electrical whatsists
While this heart-warming moment is going on Nick Cage and his enemy are released from the antique urn.  They waste no time in trying to locate the Russian Nesting Dolls.  Nick Cage has apparently lost ten years of his life, but gained a fedora.
Totally worth it!
Nick Cage's enemy finds Trotsky and attacks him with wolves from the calendar his roommate was using earlier to illustrate his metaphor.  Trostky looks doomed but Nick Cage arrives just in time to turn them into  puppies. 
Not the puppies!  Anything but puppies!
Nick Cage then appears in the fashion that he should in every movie from now on: riding a giant metal eagle. You think I'm making this up?  I'll prove it:
Home of the BAMFs
Nick Cage complains to Trotsky that he's been trapped for the past ten years and Trostky replies that he has too--in a "figurative urn of ridicule."  Despite that and the fact that he thought it was all a hallucination ten years earlier he agrees to help find the Russian Nesting Doll.  Nick Cage then makes the ill-advised choice of trying to explain magic with faulty science.  Magic is magic and needs no explanation--most audiences are willing to suspend disbelief.  Bringing crap science in is a disservice to science and an insult to the audience's intelligence.  Specifically he uses the popular misconception that humans only use 10% of their brains and by using the other 90% sorcerers can move matter with their minds by shaking molecules.  Trotsky accepts this explanation proving that he clearly needs a science tutor as well.  Then they go to Chinatown where Nick Cage beats up an old woman.
Take that grandma!
The old woman turns out to be his enemy in disguise who has already found the Russian Nesting Doll and released a Chinese evil sorcerer.  Because he's Chinese he clearly can't use the regular magical methods of attacks we've seen so far.  Instead he attacks Nick Cage first with acupuncture needles and then by turning the new year dragon in the parade outside into an actual dragon.  Seriously? I don't know what is sadder: that filmmakers still think they can get away with crap like this, or that for the most part they actually can.  
I kill you with the power of stereotype!
He is defeated fairly quickly by a complete amateur and we never hear from him again.  He doesn't even get any lines.  The police finally show up and instead of running away with the rest of the crowd, which would have been easy enough, they pull out their emergency cop disguises.  Never leave home without one!  Nick Cage purposefully makes himself sound ignorant so he'll blend in as a cop.  Clever plan--don't want to let a good stereotype go to waste!
The fake mustache is the most important part of the cop disguise
Nick Cage and Trotsky go back to his underground lab in a subway station (apparently provided by the university?) to practice their magical skills.  Meanwhile, after seeing the dynamic duo in action, Nick Cage's enemy decides that he needs to get an apprentice as well.  He naturally turns to Proto Zoa from Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century.
You make my heart go zoom zoom!
Okay, it's not really him, not even the same actor, but that's what I thought of when I first saw him.  He's probably my favorite character in the movie because I'm clearly more comfortable with stereotyping rock stars than the other prejudices we've seen in this movie.  It's pretty hilarious I have to admit.  He has posters of himself all around and is getting his nails painted black when we first meet him. He's apparently turned to stage magic since his previous master left, hence the rock-star fame and persona.  He also has an accent for no reason.  Like all the best villains.
Paint my nails black like my soul
Cut back to Nick Cage and Trotsky bonding over sandwiches.  Nick Cages gives the classic 'women are a distraction' speech which Trotsky naturally ignores the moment Legs steps out of the radio building.  He catches up with her and she jokes about how he's stalking her but seems okay with it.  She's read Twilight so she knows that men stalk because they care.  He follows her to the subway station where she is conveniently mugged, giving him a chance to save her like the damsel she clearly is.  Trotsky follows the mugger and beats him with a trash can.
Taking out the trash
Legs is thankful to have her jewelry of sentimental value (see? she's totally not shallow) returned and so she agrees to meet her stalker later on in his creepy underground lair.  Trotsky goes back to training until the girl arrives.  Nick Cage makes the reasonable point that their lives are on the line and he can put off his date a bit, but Trotsky won't listen to reason because he's in love with the girl he barely knows, or at least with her legs.  Somehow in the middle of the training he's found the time to make his Tesla coils into a musical instrument and learned how to play a song he heard on her radio show.  Despite being unrealistic it is pretty cute and he earns extra points in my book for making Tesla coils because Tesla is my favorite.  Although Tesla would definitely disapprove of using his coils to get a girl.
My love for you is electric!
Afterward he walks her to yoga class so she can limber up for him and he sings a song about her while peeing in the restroom next door.  I'm not sure if that's creepy or adorable.  Cradorable?  Anyway Proto Zoa interrupts these shenanigans before long to intimidate Trotsky with cutting remarks and sharp fashion. When Trotsky doesn't recognize him he guesses that he's a member of Depeche Mode.  Close, but no cigar.
Check out the boots!
Soon their respective masters show up to join in on the battle and Nick Cage's enemy reveals to Trotsky that he is the prime Merlinian before Nick Cage defeats him with the Hungarian Mirror Trick.  Being the prime Merlinian apparently is similar to the Prime Directive in that is says that Trotsky cannot interfere in the development of himself as the new Merlin.  Who needs free will when you have magic?
Seriously where do they get these ideas from?
Nick Cage and Trostky go back to train some more but Nick Cage's enemy and Proto Zoa are hot on their trail.  They pose as teachers to gain access to the student database and Trotsky's files to find his secret university-sponsored underground lab.  Another bright spot in the movie comes as the database flunky says that he needs to see Nick Cage's enemy's faculty ID card and he magics him and says that he doesn't.  Proto Zoa says aloud what I was already thinking: "These are not the droids you're looking for!"  It's moments like that that make this movie the more tolerable one in my double feature line up.
That's why he's my favorite
Meanwhile the filmmakers are desperately trying to find a way to work in a version of the iconic Sorcerer's Apprentice scene.  They do so by saying that Trotsky needs to clean up because Legs is visiting so he takes out his ridiculously large supply of mops and other cleaning implements to wash the floors and do the dishes as he showers.  Because what abandoned subway terminal turned into Tesla Coil lab doesn't have a dozen mops and a sink full of dirty dishes? 
This doesn't feel forced at all
Nick Cage appears to save the day again, but not before Trotsky has to turn Legs away.  So he throws a fit and yells at Nick Cage and storms out.  He walks around in not just one but two hoodies so that he can pull them over his head and walk around being doubly emo.  To comfort himself he stalks Legs again.  He finds her having fun with her friends and stares at her through the window before going away to pout on a roof top.  
Cheer up emo boy!
Legs saw him watching her through the window though and decides to stalk him right back, following him to the roof.  As a girl she's afraid of heights but with his manly hand around hers she finds the courage to go to the roof edge and enjoy the view.
Trust me, I'm a stalker!
Meanwhile Proto Zoa and Nick Cage's Enemy have broken into the underground lab to look for the Russian Nesting Doll.  Proto Zoa glances around for a few seconds then declares he can't find it like a petulant child and leaves it to his daddy/master to find.  Not a shining moment for him.  Thankfully, now that Trotsky knows he hasn't blown his chances with legs he decides to forgive Nick Cage and returns to his lab just in time to save the day.  They end up in a car chase where they can change their cars by magic into anything they want.  yet neither changes their car into the bat mobile.  Biggest plot hole of the whole movie.  Instead the bad guys turn their car into a trash truck. 
You have chosen poorly!
Nick Cage and Trotsky escape somehow though and have a heart to heart.  Nick Cage explains that Morgan and his love interest are caught in the Russian Nesting Doll.  I've heard of emotional baggage before but Nick Cage has literally been carrying around his old flame for centuries.  No wonder he's so messed up. He says that there's something different about Trotsky and that it's because Trotsky and Legs are in love.  Awww.  Nick Cage's Enemy and Proto Zoa are hanging out too, but instead of having a heart to heart Nick Cage's Enemy kills Proto Zoa.  Because he's evil.  At least we get to see him in one last wonderful awful outfit surrounded by creepy paintings of himself.  
Yes, that's a Magic the Gathering poster with Proto Zoa drawn in
Nick Cage's Enemy then releases the penultimate evil magician from the Russian Nesting Doll and it turns out to be Abigail from Salem witch hunt fame.  Seriously!  She's dispatched to kidnap Legs so that they can use her to get Trotsky to give up the Russian Nesting Doll and his magic dragon ring.  Naturally, Trotsky obliges.  
She's a witch!
Now that Trotsky has given up his ring he is powerless so Nick Cage must stop the evil doomsday plan by himself.  Apparently if Morgan is released from the Russian Nesting Doll she will raise an army of zombies.  Why do Nick Cage's enemies always go straight for the zombie plan?  Anyway naturally Trotsky decides to fight anyway and Legs agrees to help by climbing a tower to kick a satellite to disrupt the magical zombie beckoning relay circle.  I think this is supposed to show that she's not just a damsel in distress but really it's too little too late if you ask me.  
Take that inanimate object incapable of fighting back! My work here is done.
Meanwhile Nick Cage's enemy releases Morgan le Fey because even a sorceress as powerful as her is helpless unless she is first rescued by a man.  She then proceeds to commence her zombie ritual which unlike any of the magic the men have done in the movie apparently necessitates her sitting in a fountain getting her dress wet while she writhes about on her knees. Clearly she's been going to yoga too.  
Oh yeah, this is how powerful women look
Legs kicking the satellite knocks out Morgan who, don't forget,  is in the body of Nick Cage's Love Interest.    Nick Cage runs up to the poor damsel in distress who has fainted and saves her with a kiss.  Because that's apparently the best way to get spirits possessing someone out.  If only they knew that in Season of the Witch!  Nick Cage nobly sacrifices himself for his lady by taking Morgan in his body instead.  
Prince Charming
The gesture is pretty pointless in the end though as Morgan quickly decides that she doesn't need a body and can fight as an incorporeal being instead.  Trotsky fights her even though he lost his magic dragon ring, proving that he really is the Prime Merlinian.  Yay?  They then engage in turn-based combat.  They actually say "Now it's my turn."  Personally, I've never had any patience for turn-based combat games so it's a good thing I wasn't the one fighting.   
Good thing I spent all that time practicing this with Paper Mario!
It looks like our intrepid hero will lose until Morgan stops for the obligatory quip break. Trotsky declares "I brought a little science with me" and unleashes his Tesla coils on her.  It's the age-old battle of pseudo-science versus sloppy magic.  
The shocking climax
Once again, now that the battle is over Nick Cage is able to die.  But since this is a Disney movie he gets brought back to life with the magical equivalent of a defibrillator.
 So the good end happily and the bad end unhappily and the movie ends with a crappy pop ballad.  The two couples kiss to show that they'll be happy from now on and Trotsky and Legs ride off into the night on the back of the giant metal eagle.  The end!
Legs fulfills her purpose in the movie at last!

Nick Cage Double Feature

I'm a bit sick at the moment, so to make myself feel better I decided to watch some movies that are crappier than I feel right now.  I ended up making it a Nicholas Cage double feature because no matter how awful I'm feeling I can at least take comfort in the fact that I'm not Nick Cage.  Besides, nothing cheers me up more than making snarky commentary on bad movies, so at my sister's request I've decided to write reviews of the movies so that you can laugh at them too without having to actually suffer through them as well.  First up: Season of the Witch

Season of the witch is about how men win glory by killing things and women need protecting...I mean it's a movie about redemption.  In order to have a movie about redemption, you need some characters who have done some things they need redemption for.  So we begin with Nick Cage and his sidekick fighting in the crusades.  We see them preparing for battle by swapping bon mots and boasting about who will kill the most infidels.  The one who wins the most will 'drink free' that night because apparently they've set up a bar in the middle of the battlefield.  I wonder when its happy hour starts.
Look our heroes are morally ambiguous!  Let's make that clear from the get-go.
The seasons change as they continue to battle, much like the famous Twilight scene of Bella sitting at the window doing nothing for months on end because she is so heart-broken over her sparkly boyfriend, but with more actual killing and less soul-killing displays of patheticness.  This continues until the Battle of Smyrna where he kills a woman and looks around to see other women and children slain by his fellow soldiers.  Apparently killing hundreds of men means nothing to him, but this is where he finally draws the line.
Whoops!  My b!
So Nick Cage and Sidekick decide to desert the army and abandon the crusade.  Well, at least Nick Cage decides to and sidekick plays along because he has no free will. On the road they find victims of the plague which are unnecessarily gruesome and have way too much screen time.  Seriously If I wasn't nauseated already from being sick this movie would have made me so.  I'll spare you the screen shot for me.

Eventually they decided to go to a town for provisions where they are discovered to be deserters and therefore thrown in prison.  They are told that they will be pardoned, however, if they agree to escort a witch supposedly responsible for the plague to a town where the monks have a special book and training to kill her properly.  Nick Cage refuses dramatically at first, making the scandalous declaration that he "serves the church no more"  but eventually agrees because otherwise the movie would have been too short and also in exchange for the promise that the witch will get a fair trial.  
A pretty girl needs saving? This is my chance for redemption!
So they gather a posse together, throw the girl in a wagon cage, and make their merry way.  But soon they realize that someone is following them.  Who could it be?  It's Nathan and he offers to help as part of his community service!  

The reason I decided to watch this movie.
I mean it's an altar boy who offers his services so that he may become a knight.  At first they try to send him on his way but after he proves that he can play the bon mot insult game (although not very well with 'old man' as his choice) they decide to test him with a fight.  He proves that he can hold his own in a fight against Sideckick with the cunning use of trees and somersaults, so they decide that he may come in handy after all and let him tag along.  
A true knight can hide behind trees in a fight with grace and nobility

When it's time to break camp the first man to watch the prisoner lets slip that she reminds him of his daughter who died of the plague.  She then escapes and leads them all to a mass grave for plague victims which they all decide to play hide and seek in.  The witch uses her knowledge of the first watchman to cause him to see his dead daughter and run himself in with Nathan's sword, although don't ask me how.  Nathan's holding it sensibly enough one minute and the next he's apparently holding it out straight in front of himself while looking elsewhere so that someone can run into it with enough force to push the sword through his entire body.  

Sensible enough posture
Shish Kebab
You'd think Nathan would be used to accidentally killing people after all the probation workers he and his friends have murdered, but he's still a bit shook up about this one.  They are soon distracted from their loss by the difficulty of passing over a rickety bridge.  Nick Cage won't let some silly rotting bridge stop him, so he leads the way across first to prove it's strong enough because it's been a while since we've had a reminder that he is a BAMF.
Rickety Schmickety nothing can stop me!
They decide to lead the horses across first then ease the wagon over with some sort of rope system.  Three are left behind to slowly let the wagon across with the rope while Nick Cage and Nathan lead it across.  But of course their plan doesn't quite work out as the priest is unable to keep hold of the rope.  This causes the wagon to fall faster and knock over Nick and Nathan.
If only he had a pair of fingerless gloves
Nathan looks like he's about to fall to his death, but he's too pretty to die so he's saved by the witch single-handedly--literally.  Instead of being grateful to the girl for saving the only thing making the movie worthwhile however, they just become convinced of the fact that she's a witch because how else could a silly woman have the strength to save a man?  Even the ones who wanted to give her a fair trial now just want her dead.
Never let go Jack!
The guide thinks they should just kill her immediately, so the witch does the only sensible thing to do and calls down a pack of demonic wolves to kill him. They let the rest of the group escape, though.
She's clearly team Jacob
Nick Cage finally decides that he's had enough too and tries to kill her, but Sidekick talks sense into him and tells him to wait for the monks because they're almost there.  They can see the town from the path even (convenient what with their guide being dead and all.)  So they make it to the town only to discover that they're too late and all the monks are already dead leaving behind nothing but more disgusting corpses.
Missed them by this much!
 But wait!  That's not all!  A dying monk points to a table where they find that they also get a fabulous jewel-encrusted book of magic!  All this for the low, low price of their lives.  They decide to use the book and the rope-burned priest to perform the ritual to finally kill the witch that has been spreading plague across the land.
This thing looks pretty long guys, I don't think we have time to read it..let's just skip to the end
So they go out to perform the ritual and kill the witch...but this movie won't die that easily!  They soon discover that it is not a witch but a girl possessed by the devil.  Of course!  Even witches are still women at heart and no woman could have outwitted them.  She clearly has to have a man lending her power!  She's a poor innocent possessed waif prime for saving.
This is what happens when you go to bed without cleaning off your makeup
The devil conveniently leaves them to re-group for a while so that Nathan can nobly decide to remain even when he is told to leave the demon slaying to the big boys.  For this gesture he gets the knighthood he has craved for so long.  Meanwhile they figure out that the devil wanted to come here all along to destroy the magic book, which he why he made the girl look like a witch.  They come upon monks who were trying to copy it out as they died and vow to protect it to save the world.  It's final showdown time.
Now repeat after me: Ni!
So the devil appears and reanimates the corpses of the monks which then need to be decapitated to be stopped.  Witches, werewolves, zombies, demons they're firing the big guns for this movie! So they fight to destroy the zombie demons and also, the library.  Those gorgeous manuscripts are just thrown about and shredded in ways that will give me nightmares tonight.  The posse members die off until eventually the priest reading the incantation to kill the devil is killed.  With him gone and Nick Cage in the clutches of the devil it seems as if the day is lost.
Nick Cage being strangled by the devil aka the best part of the movie
But unfortunately even the devil is prone to the supervillain weakness of having to explain your motives to your enemy to delay the hero's death.  That allows Sidekick enough time to apparently come back from the dead in a non-zombie fashion and make one last quip and save Nick Cage before dying for realsies.  Nathan meanwhile remembers that as an altar boy he knows latin too and takes up the book to kill off the devil.
Saving the day by reading...that's my boy!
Nick Cage holds off the devil so Nathan can read in peace and the devil stabs him repeatedly with his wing claws.  Nothing can stop Nick Cage though so he holds off until Nathan finishes his chapter like a true gentleman.  I wish I had someone protecting me from interruptions like that!  So the devil dies and shortly thereafter, so does Nick Cage.  Like a good anti-hero he dies promptly after finding his redemption and leaves living to the young and innocent (except for that accidental impaling incident.)
Whoever pulls the sword from the stone wait wrong story
The girl turns out to be a helpless waif after all who is super thankful for being saved.  She is left to tell the story, and presumably to thank Nathan for saving the world.  I assume they end up together because women are clearly nothing but objects to be possessed in this movie.  And they all lived forever scarred by the images of the disgusting plague-riddled zombies.  Except for the people who already died.  The End.