Sunday, March 31, 2013

Currently Reading: The Shadow of Wrath

Author: L. W. Patricks

This is the story of a kid that is kidnapped from the streets, and forced to fight for his survival in the arena.  As the author posts on twitter, "In the Arena, you're either a killer or a victim." After reading the introduction, I must say that this looks like it could be a great read.  I am starting to grab every indie book I can get for cheap or free. If you want yours to be next on my list then send me a message.

Review: Shift series

Author: Hugh Howey

I just finished the third installment, titled Pact, of the Shift series written by Hugh Howey.  This isn't really a continuation of the story from Wool.  The events in this series coincide with the events in Wool.  You get to learn the origins of of the silos, and learn the story behind the men that control everything.  There is a familiar progression in the story of silo 1 that is every bit as enthralling as Wool.  The side story of the character Solo is good at the start, but drags on as the story continues.  It is a necessary evil that helps to tie everything neatly together with the end of Wool.  I can't wait for the next installments set to be titled "Dust".  This is a must read if you have read and enjoyed Wool.  If you haven't read Wool yet then go and get a copy of it now!  Yes it is that good!

Friday, March 29, 2013

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Rated PG-13 / Runtime 1 hr 30 min / Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy

This is the sequel to G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra which was a bit of a disappointment to me.  Yes it had some decent action, and some good special effects.  The script was terrible though.  There were so many cheesy moments that made me want to cry they were so bad.  Marlon Wayans was grossly misused, and everyone else was just there as eye candy.  This time around we have the welcome additions of The Rock and Bruce Willis.  Cobra has taken over the White House, and Zartan is impersonating the President of the United States.  This is bad news for the good guys.

The acting in this one is vastly improved.  The Rock does his usual action hero job, and he does it well.  Bruce Willis is there to add depth to another character who otherwise would just be eye candy.  Byung-hun Lee gets a chance to shine as Storm Shadow, and he does a decent job of it.  The biggest improvements were made by killing off or not bringing back most of the forgetable cast from the last G.I. Joe movie.

Once again the script leaves something to be desired.  There are a bunch of scenes where people are asking Snake Eyes questions that aren't easy yes/no answers.  He doesn't talk.. like..  ever. Thankfully no one expects a response, and they just move on.  The scenes with RZA as the blind master were just terrible.  That being said, this movie is a vast improvement over the last one in nearly every aspect.  Even though the script isn't great, it is not so bad that you groan out loud.  There are even scenes that make some of the characters likable which is an improvement over the last one.  They changed Cobra Commander's voice to make it more menacing.  The action sequences and special effects were the highlight of the first film, and they are done even better in this one.

Overall this is the first really good action movie I have seen this year.  It's not a great movie.  There is still a lot of room for improvement, but it is still worth a watch if you like action movies.  There are some issues with the script.  At least there aren't plot holes large enough to drive a Brinks truck through like most of the other action movies that have been in theaters so far this year.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Olympus Has Fallen

Rated R / Runtime 1 hr 59 min. / Drama, Action & Adventure

The trailer for this movie sets it up pretty well.  Gerard Butler plays Secret Service agent Mike Banning that is assigned to the President played by Aaron Eckhart.  There is a car accident which results in the president's life being saved, but the first lady dies.  Flash forward to a year and a half later.  Rick Yune plays Kang who is the head of security for a South Korean representative.  He turns out to be the bad guy, and he kidnaps the president.

Gerard Butler is entertaining to watch as usual.  He is a one man wrecking machine, and everyone that could possibly steal his thunder is quickly killed off once the action starts.  Eckhart plays his usual role where he is there to resist the bad guy, but he's not really there to save the day.  Rick Yune plays a decent enough bad guy.  He looks menacing when needed, and the script provides enough death to make you think that people shouldn't mess with him.

The problem with this movie is the script plain and simple.  There are so many moments in this movie that make no sense that I don't know where to start.  You really have to turn your brain off to enjoy this one.  Once that is done, it's a decent action movie.  Gerard easily steals the show, and the script doesn't really give anyone else much chance to do anything other than worry about the President.  My only other gripe is the way the fight scenes are shot and edited.  They did a bunch of close up jump cuts during most of the fist fights.  The gun fights flow pretty well.  Unfortunately the fist fights are mostly a mess where you see a flash of movement and hear men grunting.  You can't really tell what happened half the time, but the bad guy dies.

In the end it's a decent action movie with a good cast of characters.  Unfortunately someone's dog chewed up the script, so we were left with this.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Getting Started

Welcome to my debut blog post!  I am using this space to catalog my journey, and how I got there.  I'm going to share the mistakes I have made, and what I did to overcome them.  

I have always enjoyed writing.  Everything I've done has involved some sort of writing.  I used to write poetry, songs, and many many stories.  The problem hasn't been getting started for me.  The problem I have always had has been losing interest in whatever project I am working on.  So how do I get around this problem?  I'll get to that soon.  

First you have to get an idea.  This is the time when you get really excited about a story, and figure out all of the major plot points.  What is the world like?  What are your characters like?  My first impulse is to sit down right away, and start writing.  That is not what works for me.  If it works for you then I salute you.  

The next step that I took was to research the world.  If everything in your book is going to come from your mind then this is a bit different than going to the library or google, and looking up everything you need to know.  For instance, what are the popular religions in your world?  What kind of religious sayings are used?  Something like "May Kratuk's wisdom guide you" may be something that is commonly said.  Maybe Kratuk is a cruel deity, and something like "May Kratuk notice your death 15 minutes after you reach paradise" would be more appropriate.  What are the major institutions in your world?  What is the government like?  What does each of your characters do on a normal boring day?  This all becomes a lot easier if you are only using facts that you already know, but don't think that you do not need to do any research. Don't ever make the assumption that you know everything.  It will make things a lot easier if you have all of these things figured out beforehand.  I have a notebook where I am keeping track of these things.  Let's say you need to know how many representatives sit in the legislature.  It's a lot easier to look that up on the government page in a notebook than it is to go look through your entire book for the one time you mention it.  The "making it all up as I go" approach doesn't really work for me.  Sometimes you have to add something for the story.  The story is going to be in a constantly evolving world, so leave some blank space in the notebook to add new notes as you write.

The last step I took to prepare was to set up an outline for the book.  Before when I would write, I would always lose interest in the journey from point to point.  I broke down the entire story into chapters.  Each chapter has a specific starting point and ending point.  It has been a lot easier for me to stay interested in the journey rather than just the major plot points now.  I just treat each chapter as a short story, and focus on what I can do to make this chapter interesting and fun.  So far the book that I am working on is the longest story I have ever written.  

I hope this helps someone out there, and please add your tips if you have any.  I would love to read them!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Currently Reading

This is what I am currently reading, and once I am done I will comment on the book.

Currently Reading: Third Shift -Pact
Author: Hugh Howey

This is the third book in the Shift series which takes place in the Wool universe.  I would highly recommend starting with Wool.  This hypnotic tale sneaks up on you.  Hugh Howey is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors.  

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

I went to go see The Incredible Burt Wonderstone this past Thursday night. This is a silly comedy with Steve Carell and Jim Carrey. It is the story of Las Vegas magician Burt Wonderstone who has been headlining for the past 10 years. In that time he has lost his passion for magic. His friendship with his long time partner Anton Marvelton has become strained. He ends up losing everything, and has to look for what made him love magic to begin with.

I love Jim Carrey in silly movies.  He absolutely steals every scene he is in.  He plays a parody of street magicians like David Blaine and Criss Angel.  On the other hand Steve Carell is so stiff it is hard to see why they cast him in this role other than name recognition.  He is much better when he plays a socially awkward character that is uncomfortable in every situation.  This time he's playing a proven performer who takes advantage of his female fans.  Carell provides some good laughs in this movie, but there are just as many scenes that are too painful to watch.  The romance angle in the script feels forced, but it does give them an excuse to show Olivia Wilde.  Other than being some much appreciated eye candy, she doesn't add a lot to the film.  She still delivers a better performance than Carell even if the script only allows her to be moral support for the most part.

If you like silly movies about magic then this one is worth a watch.  It isn't anything special, but it does provide it's share of genuine laughs.  

The Ghost

I have moved The Ghost over to Wattpad.  I will be updating the story every Monday.  I will post links to the updates here as they are posted.

Part 1 - The Ghost is on a mission to steal an artifact from a museum.
Part 2 - The Ghost is working out, and is contacted by a mentalist who is trying to warn her about something.
Part 3 - The Ghost is about to tackle The Gauntlet when she has an unexpected visitor from the Theives Guild.