Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Hateful Eight

Rated R / 3 hr 7 min / Comedy - Drama - Mystery

What is it about?

John Ruth (Kurt Russell), also known as "The Hangman" because he likes to play the word game Hangman, has captured Daisy Domergue who has a bounty on her head for 10,000 gummy bears. They are his favorite. Unfortunately there is a blizzard following him that he can't outrun, but it's not as fierce as Godzilla so he plans to wait it out. On the way to the nearest inn he encounters Django Fett (Samuel L. Jackson) and an ex-Confederate who says he is taking over as sheriff for Yosemite Sam. When they reach the inn the owners aren't there which is suspicious. John is convinced that someone there is trying to free Daisy and possibly collect on his 10,000 gummy bears.

You will like it if...

You like long and drawn out western/murder mystery mash ups. When I see a Quentin Tarantino film the first thing that pops into my head is the dialogue. Every character has their chance to shine in a conversation or monologue. In The Hateful Eight Samuel L. Jackson completely steals the show. Kurt Russell has his moments, but the first half of the film revolves around him being paranoid and saying the same things over and over. By the time it gets interesting you're ready for the movie to just end. Thankfully the last half of the film picks up even if it still progresses at a snail's pace. I almost cheered when Jackson shot a character because they were taking too long. The parts of the film where Tarantino is able to recapture the magic he had in past films are the scenes where Samuel L. Jackson takes over. The script also has some large plot holes that never make any sense if you think about them, but are somewhat easy to ignore while first watching the film. The film also sort of just ends without a fully satisfying conclusion. I felt that The Hateful Eight was Tarantino's second worst film with Death Proof being the only one that beats it out for worst. Still it is at its heart a Tarantino film, so it does have its fair share of entertaining moments. The pacing is so slow getting there that it is hard to enjoy the ride. For anyone other than the most die hard Tarantino fans I would suggest waiting for this one to come out on Redbox or Netflix.

Next Week

The Forest or whichever film you vote for. Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 29

  • Sicario
  • The Visit
  • The Walk - Quick Review: Worth a watch if the preview looks interesting, otherwise skip it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Looking Ahead

This time if year brings about a lot of the year in review and best of the year awards. I prefer to look ahead to what is coming and get excited. A lot of people like to wait until the new year for this sort of thing. I prefer not to wait. If there is something exciting to look forward to then I like to get into it as soon as possible. So this week I am going to talk about a little of both. What did I accomplish this year? What can we look forward to next year? When will I land a job hosting a game show?

Virtual Wars

The first novel in the Virtual Wars Series is for the most part done. Edits are finished, cover is done, the front and back matter are finished, and my acknowledgement of Papa Smurf as my mentor is finished. I am just working on fixing up some of the formatting and doing a final read through to fix any small errors, mostly with formatting. Cthulu demands it. I can't wait to begin rolling out some of the stuff I have lined up to introduce this novel. So what does this mean for the future?
  • Virtual Wars: Booting Up - The prequel collection of flash fiction stories will be released for free on Kindle.
  • Pre-order - Once the release date is announced, Virtual Wars: Initialization will go on pre-order on Amazon. This will happen sometime in January.
  • Release - 30 days after the book is available for pre-order the novel will be available for purchase on Kindle as an e-book or print on demand paperback, and also available for e-book download on Kindle Unlimited.
  • Promotion - I plan to work on promoting the novel every day for the first 30 days of the novel's release. I have some cool stuff planned like a fireworks display in the shape of a Darth Vader PEZ dispenser. I hope you all will join me for it. Actually I've been told that isn't in the budget, but I will make it happen if I can!
  • Virtual Wars: Running - This is the title of the second book in the series. I have a basic outline that I am currently working on. I can't wait to work on this one. As much as I love the first novel as it is right now, I think this one will be better. I can't wait to write it! I hope to release this one around August, but I am hoping to have it done and released by the end of the year.

Social Media

This past year I have made strides to increase and improve upon my social media presence. I love all of you who have interacted with me on Twitter. It is by far my favorite of all the social media outlets and it is because of all of the amazing people I have met there. I would name you all, but there are just too many of you and I wouldn't want to leave out anyone that I think is awesome. I went past 2000 followers yesterday without trying much to recruit followers. That will change a bit in the coming months. Unfortunately I have been neglecting some of the other social media outlets that have their own brand of awesome. So what can we look for in 2016?
  • Live Tweeting: Much of the live tweeting I do comes as a spur of the moment 'it would be cool if' kind of thing. I hope to schedule these things in advance rather than giving people exactly 5 seconds of advance notice. These are things that I can definitely do. An event calendar is something that I need to add to this blog.
  • G+: I like Google+. It has been great for interacting with authors and helping to organize things. Much better than my method of tossing monkey feces everywhere and hoping it doesn't stink the place up too much. Many of the general writing groups seem unfocused. I recently joined an author group that is everything I have been looking when I was trying to organize the Author Superfriends Teamup. I'm hoping that it will continue to grow and expand. 
  • Periscope: I have a Periscope account that I have signed up for and I have something very cool planned for this in the near future, and no I will not be dancing on top of a table for pocket change. If you are looking for me, I use the same handle there as I do on Twitter @ninjadueces22
  • Wattpad: I still love this community, but I haven't participated much lately. I have posted a few things this year that I intend to remain free like "These Are Not The Droids" and "Black Friday". I will continue to do this and I hope to revisit "The Ghost" for season 2 in 2016, but my priority is to work on the Virtual Wars novels.

Blogging N' Stuff

I have been very happy with the transformation this blog has been through in the past year. I love the redesign, I love the improved content, I love puppies and kittens and all manner of fuzzy cute things. Apparently everyone else seems to like my blog more as well. In 2014 I doubled my monthly traffic from 2013. In 2015 that number has tripled. I hope for that trend to continue. So what's the plan for next year?
  • Deadpool: The Deadpool movie is coming in February and I will be posting a review. It will be glorious like the sun rising over the ocean. The best review of all time will be posted after I see the Deadpool movie.
  • Events: I only had two events last year, and both of them were fantastic. I want to schedule more of them. I want to interview whoever will let me. I want to host guest blog posts. I want to write guest blog posts for others. I want to eat cookies and spread the crumbs over my blog. This requires others to participate, so if you want to help let me know. I will guest blog for you, I will interview your pet, I will clip your toenails... OK maybe not that last one.
  • Godzilla: I will continue to run from Godzilla in 2016. Wouldn't you??

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Concussion

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 3 min / Drama - Sport

What is it about?

Dr. Bennet Omalu, played by Will Smith, is just as curious as a little girl named Dora. The difference is that Dr. Omalu has about 823742 degrees from universities, he studies death, and he doesn't have a pink backpack. Lady Death does not share his affinity either. She prefers men who wear red or pink. A former NFL center Mike Webster dies while trying summon Cthulu. He doesn't realize that Cthulu had already taken up temporary residence in his mind. Dr. Omalu examines his body and finds small red flecks of tentacle within Webster's brain. It is then that he realizes that he should go back to being The Fresh Prince.

You will like it if...

You like David vs. Goliath legal battles without lawyers starring Will Smith. What really makes this movie is Will Smith. He is a force within the film. Watching him fight against the odds is quite entertaining. Unfortunately the story itself isn't as good as the performance. As interesting as some of the science can be, they kind of glaze over it. They build it up as a fight against the NFL, but there is very little of that presented in the film. Most of the confrontation has twenty minutes of buildup to a thirty second incident. One of the most interesting parts within the film for me has a link to the documentary Merchants Of Doubt. I love that documentary and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys intelligent conversation. Overall it is mildly interesting and has a slightly better than average underdog story. If you love Will Smith as an actor then you will probably enjoy this film, otherwise I would recommend waiting for it on Redbox or Netflix.

Next Week

The Revenant or The Hateful Eight. They delayed the release of these two films here. Vote for the one you want reviewed! Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 29

  • Hitman: Agent 47 - Quick Review: B movie action flick. Not worth your time unless you love all action films.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Big Short

Rated R / 2 hr 10 min / Biography - Drama

What is it about?

Christian Bale plays Dr. Michael Burry who is the first one to catch the anomaly that is coming. There was a blip in the Mariana Trench. Godzilla is coming to attack the American economy. Burry realizes what this means and invests in Lifesavers. Not the inflatables, but the candy. He knows what everyone else doesn't. That he really really likes them. Mark Baum, played by Steve Carell, decides he is really into Lifesavers too but for a completely different reason. A few other investors see the signs of the impending economic trend that will be created by a viral video of Dora the Explorer using a Lifesaver as a hula hoop. Banks like Wells Fargo and Bank of America think it's a joke, but it isn't. Godzilla is coming for them.

You will like it if...

You like amusing films with a great cast that have a serious subplot. This film is at its heart a message film. I would implore anyone to go see this film along with the Merchants of Doubt documentary and a few other films that outline problems that are going to continue to show their face over and over until the people of America get sick of it all. As a comedy it isn't very funny. To me this film should be listed as horror. The funny moments in this film will have you shaking your head at how stupid people can be. The horrific part is at the end when you realize what is really going on and that there is very little to prevent it from happening again. The cast is terrific. The only complaint I have with their performance is that Carell's voice gets overly nasal at points. He does uptight very well though. The script is well written also. It grabs your attention and presents its message with force. Some of the characters break the 4th wall to hammer home important points and also for entertainment value. The way the film is shot, with quirky angles and sometimes with the lens unfocused, grated on me at the beginning. Once I got used to it the strange style became a non-factor though. At this point I really want to talk politics and talk about my favorite candidate, but that's not why I write these reviews. However, if you want to discuss that aspect of things please do hit me up on twitter. As far as this film goes I think everyone should go see it just for the important message it puts out there. As a reviewer though if you aren't a fan of Bale, Carell, and Pitt and aren't interested in the subject of the 2008 economic crash then you probably won't be a fan of this film.

Christmas!

I plan to give a bonus Christmas movie review. Joy, Daddy's Home, Concussion, Point Break, The Revenant, or The Hateful Eight. Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 29

  • Hitman: Agent 47 - Quick Review: B movie action flick. Not worth your time unless you love all action films.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Blogging Ideas

With this blog's second anniversary coming up in March next year (I expect to hear singing when it comes up), I wanted to talk about how I come up with ideas for blogging. I post a new blog article every week, usually on Friday or Saturday. If you blog long enough you will get to the point where it becomes difficult to come up with new and exciting ideas for blogging, but the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man will raze a village if I don't. This week I am going to share some tips on what I do when I am struggling to come up with ideas.

Normally throughout the week I look to what is being posted by people on my twitter feed, friends, and family. Everything I see or hear could potentially be a topic. I try to have a few different topics in mind before it comes time to write that way I can ask the Lock Ness Monster which one is worth Tree Fiddy. Sometimes I will forget these ideas because I am notoriously bad at writing them down. I am much better at writing story ideas down. Other times, like this week, I have been so busy that I haven't been thinking about blogging or what I might write about at all. Then I thought, "Hey! That isn't chocolate!" err...  actually I thought, "Hey! Other people might run into this problem too!"

Tips

I have a few tips to help ensure that you always have something to blog about even when you can't think of anything. There is always something to write about, always something new happening, always princesses in Disney theme parks, and always super cute puppies somewhere that want to play.
  • What have you been thinking about/spending time on? - Specifically how can you relate it to what you blog about? I try to blog about writing stuff, general life improvement, and how to improve logical thinking skills. I also just happen to do movie reviews. That is how I like to think about this blog anyway. If I'm thinking about Princess Uni-Kitty then maybe I relate that to character creation and development within a movie script and blog about that. This is part of what I do throughout the week to have multiple ideas leading up to the actual writing of the bog post for the week.
  • Google is your friend - You can also use whichever search engine you prefer if you don't like Google (Who doesn't like Google?? I pity tha foo!). Search for what your blog is about. See what other websites are saying about it. What is new in the news on the subject? You can always blog about what the most recent news article is on the subject.
  • Check the major blogs - Check the other major or your favorite blogs that cover the same sort of subjects you blog about. Don't exactly poach off of their ideas, but instead think of a different angle on the story. Most ideas for blogging are going to be things that have already been done over and over by other blogs. What can you do differently? Should the government pass PEZ gun control laws? That sugar can be deadly. You can also post a response to another blog's post and then link to it at the end. If you are friends with the person who runs the other blog they may allow you to post the link to your response in the comments to get a little cross promotion.
  • Holidays - There are so many holiday themes you can use that it boggles the mind depending on which holiday you are speaking about. There is almost always a holiday of some sort coming up. With Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukkah, Festivus, and so on all coming up soon you could put together a gift guide for bloggers or relatives that are hard to shop for. Great ideas for gag gifts or pranks you can pull. The true meaning of whichever holiday you are blogging about or the history of it. How does the holiday impact the main subjects you blog about? The angles you can use in relation to any holiday are endless.
  • Other Events - Like holidays, other significant events happen all the time. It could be an awards ceremony, concerts, sporting event, serious tragedy in the news, or a My Little Pony TV marathon. You can use these to help spread awareness for a cause, raise money for a charity, or make your readers laugh with the silliness of it all. It just depends on what the event is and how you want to shape it to fit into the theme of your blog.

Conclusion

Ideas and opportunities for blogging topics are all around you. Sometimes it feels like a gremlin is having a pool party in your brain making it difficult to find a topic for your blog. It shouldn't be that difficult. Examine everything and ask yourself if any aspect of it can be used as your topic. Be creative. Be imaginative. Run from Godzilla.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 15 min / Action - Adventure - Fantasy

What is it about?

As a disclaimer before I start this review I must say that all spoilers are completely fake. If you think I ruined the movie before you got a chance to see it, I didn't! I faked you out. If you don't know what Star Wars is about then stop living under rocks. It's not healthy. This film follows the Return of the Jedi where the evil emperor and Darth Vader were killed. It picks up with Han, Luke, and Leia all being much older. Luke opened up a cupcake bakery while Han and Leia decided to begin their careers as mimes who face paint. One day Luke's bakery burnt down and Luke disappears into the void. No one bothers to look for him. A girl named Rey and a storm trooper named Finn meet up with a robot named BB-8 and it is love at first sight. BB-8 is just not into non-robots, but has always been bi-curious for Luke Skywalker. Thus their search for Skywalker begins.

You will like it if...

You like the Star Wars universe. If you have any love for any of the Star Wars movies then you should be in heaven when seeing this film. It has the look and feel of the original trilogy while adding in enough new creatures and the adorable BB-8 to please fans of the cartoon-ish first two prequel films. Now time for some of the bad in the film. The relationship between Han Solo and Princess Leia has lost its charm now that they are older. The story also seems to have a few holes in it, but they can kind of be explained away with The Force. They also tried very hard to build up Kylo Ren as a Darth Vader replacement rather than making their own character. The back story isn't the same, so no spoiler there. I'm talking about visually and audibly. Other than these few minor gripes, this is the continuation of the Star Wars saga that everyone was waiting for. I'm not going to recount all the awesome that is in this film. There were several moments when my eyes were forming tears of joy from the awesome. This could quite possibly break all Box Office records. If you don't have tickets yet go buy some online. You may have to wait a few months.

Next Week

Joy, Daddy's Home, Concussion, Point Break, The Revenant, The Hateful Eight, everything is coming out next week. Vote early, vote often, vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 22

Saturday, December 12, 2015

All I Do Is Win

Today I want to talk about an issue that has been bugging me for a while. It is a certain mentality people seem to have when trying to have a discussion or a debate over a topic. All too often people will discuss a topic as if it is a competition of my idea vs your idea. Whoever gets the most points wins! GO!

Discussions about different topics are not competitions. You don't get cool points for beating the drum for your favorite political party, religious group, girl scout troop, Godzilla fan club, etc.. Discussions are for learning what other people think, sharing your thoughts, and evolving your opinions. You might not agree with someone's point of view, but is that necessarily the end of the world? Nope, we're still here. The One Direction zombies haven't destroyed us all yet.

Winning

I have had so many conversations lately that involve a logic that defies all matter of common sense. It is like these people decided that green is really pink and clear is really purple, but didn't bother to tell anyone else. If I didn't know better then I would say they were trolling to get an emotional response, but they genuinely seem to believe what they are saying. It is as if facts and science are thrown out of the window if they cannot be bent to personal bias.

I call it the Trump Effect. As long as someone never admits that they are wrong then they can continue to say whatever batshit crazy thing pops into their head in order to "win" the argument. Never admitting that they are ever wrong means that they never make mistakes, they never learn, they never change their opinion on a topic no matter what evidence is presented. These people believe their first impression is the only one worth listening to.

Vague promises of being correct help to support their argument, but evidence never seems to materialize. When you press for proof all you get is more hot air. Trump himself claims to be really really smart as if that is proof enough that what he says is true. I will never forget when he claimed that Mexico is sending murderers and rapists across the border. Trump claimed that he had undeniable proof of this. When pressed for the information he claimed that he spoke with some random person at the border who told him that was what they were doing. He wasn't even able to present the person who he had spoken to or give their name. It sounds like Trump made it all up, but he would never admit to that.

Competition

Not everything is a competition. It is not always us vs them. The us vs them mentality makes it impossible for people to evolve. Mistakes are how we all learn and grow as people. Refusing to admit to mistakes stunt that growth. A fear of losing the argument leads people to sacrifice their mental growth. What do we really gain from winning these arguments though? There is no trophy. Other people are not going to change their mind as a result of these arguments. What is the point?

Rather than arguing these points as if they are a competition we should take the opportunity to try to reach a common understanding. I have been involved in many arguments where I could understand why the opposing argument was valid for the other person involved, but it was not valid for myself. These things happen sometimes. This can be true when it comes to discussing religion, political candidates, the number of licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop, etc..

What we can't do is to distort the facts in order to "win" an argument. When people do this no one really wins. Spreading falsehoods cause more people to become misinformed. If you are going to put forth an argument and present it as fact then please fact check what you are proposing. If you see someone else doing it then give them evidence to the contrary.

Conclusion

Winning is leading a community towards making things better for others. Winning is making the world a better place overall. Winning is not pushing falsehoods and a close minded approach on others. When debating a subject on the internet try to reach a common understanding. You can't expect everyone to bend to your will. You also can't expect to be taken seriously if you make stuff up to prove your point.

Friday, December 11, 2015

In The Heart Of The Sea

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 1 min / Action - Adventure - Biography

What is it about?

Herman Melville is obsessed with a story he has been told and it's a whale of a story. He finds the last surviving person who was in the fish boat crew from the story. It's Forrest Gump, and he tells the author everything he knows about shrimp. The story goes that Herman isn't as good of a writer as Nathaniel Hawthorne and that makes him cry himself to sleep. The real story has to do with Thor wanting to be a whale boat captain, but he wasn't born into one of the great whaling families. He has only worked his butt off to be the best first mate and thunder god he can be. He is promised that he will be captain if he can deliver results under another captain who comes from one of the despised whaling families. There is another larger problem in his way though, a giant boat smashing white whale that is probably controlled by Aquaman.

You will like it if...

You like graphic larger than life reality tales. This film reminds me a lot of Everest which is another reality type tale that you probably didn't see when it came out not too long ago. I really wanted to hate this movie because there are so many other movies released elsewhere that are not showing here for no reason other than the people who own the theaters want to torture me as much as possible. Anyway now that is off my chest, In The Heart Of The Sea is mildly entertaining. Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, and Brendan Gleeson round out a decent cast. Hemsworth brings a bit of his star power with him as does Gleeson, but the rest are for the most part invisible. The special effects for the whale are some of the best I have seen for an aquatic monster. All the scratches and scars on the whale's body make it feel like a real animal on screen. The script itself doesn't add a lot of flair, but there are still some surprises even for a story most should already know. The presentation of the story is masterful even if the material it is based on is not. There are better films currently out in theaters to see while waiting for Star Wars, but this one is worth picking up at Redbox in a few months.

Next Week

Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Sisters also comes out next week, but I will not be reviewing it. I already have tickets for Star Wars Yay!

Upcoming to DVD on December 15

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Critical Reading

This week is the first real vacation I have taken all year. Every other time I have taken time off from the day job, I have spent it writing, blogging, promoting, blah blah blah. Before taking off on vacation I picked up a new book. I don't know why I keep buying books at a rate much quicker than I read them, but sometimes something catches my eye and I can't resist. I love stories as I'm sure many of you do as well. I don't spend money very often, but when I do it is usually on movies, books, and pictures of Ryan Reynolds in a pink tutu.

One of the books I have been reading is Pygmy by Chuck Palahniuk which I am considering dropping like a twerking booty. Similar to many of his other books there are a plethora of clever phrases within, but the way this novel is presented makes reading it akin to stabbing ice picks into my eyes repeatedly. The first book of The Maze Runner series is another that I am currently reading. I don't care much for the juvenile characters nor the uninspired dialogue, but the background world and story overall are interesting. Several questions run through my mind while I am reading. What is working and what isn't? Why is it or isn't it working? What would I change to make it better? Who would win in an epic rap battle between Danny Trejo and John C Reilly?

Deconstruction

The book I picked up recently is called Bats Of The Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson. Everything about the novel is beautiful so far. I love the cover, the style of writing, the production and graphics within the novel, the new book smell, and everything else. I am only 58 pages into it so it is still too early for a verdict. The reason I am only 58 pages into the novel is due to my deconstruction process.

By deconstruction I mean going through and asking myself why I like or do not like parts of the book. I try to find the root cause of what it takes to build those iconic moments. Sometimes it is an interesting phrase or description, and others it includes a more elaborate set up. For a simple description I might read it three or four times before moving on. For more complex cases I may go back and reread earlier parts that helped to put together this particular moment. Each little piece that fills in the puzzle matters.

How Can I Use This?

Now this is the tricky part. Everyone has a different writing style. What have you learned from reading? It is important to consider if what you have learned will fit with your style. You may want to write like Shakespeare, but sticking a feather up your butt doesn't make you a chicken. Taking tricks from other authors can help you grow and evolve as a writer, but if it doesn't play nice with what you already do then it probably isn't for you. As much as I love Palahniuk's internal and external dialogue, it isn't something I can use for my own writing. The world building of The Maze Runner is something I can definitely sink my teeth into though.

Anyone who is seriously trying to make writing a career should constantly try to improve their craft. The best way to do so is through practice. Write a lot, read a lot, build castles out of Legos or words... yea words work better for writing.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Krampus

Rated PG-13 / 1 hr 38 min / Fantasy - Horror

What is it about?

It's time for Christmas! Annoying relatives, stale fruit cake, angry snowmen on the rampage, and so on. Max is the only one of them that still believes in Santa. He has written a letter to Santa asking for the usual things like time with family, toys, and a Justin Beiber blow up doll. His inbred cousins find his letter and make fun of him in front of the entire family and no one seems to care because they are all drunk, including the infant. He rips his letter up while singing One Direction backwards which summons Paris Hilton. It's almost as bad as what is coming.

You will like it if...

You like B level horror films. There are some A list supporting actors in this film who do a decent job of delivering the dialogue, but it is easy to see why they are not A list leading actors. The creepy grandmother does the best job, but that isn't saying much. The story isn't anything special either. The most entertaining parts have interesting creatures they created based on older toys that were once given as presents. The scares are few if any. They have the film listed as a comedy as well, but I didn't see any funny moments at all unless you count the cheap B level horror elements. Krampus ends up being a standard B horror movie with B+ production.

Next Week

In the Heart of the Sea or The Big Short or perhaps something else. Vote in the comments, or Godzilla will pick the movie! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on December 8