Monday, May 30, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 24 min / Action - Adventure - Fantasy

What is it about?

En Sabah Nur is having a birthday party, but the slaves have given him a very special present. It's an extra large Care Bear. Unfortunately the Care Bear is too big and also drunk. It knocks down one of the pyramids which buries the Egyptian god. Fast forward to the 80's. Moira Mctaggert is following a cult to a cave where they are chanting "The Cake Is A Lie". En Sabah Nur likes cake very much, so he bursts out of his prison. Now he wants to burn the world to the ground and anyone not strong enough to survive. He has to recruit mutants to be his Horsemen of the Apocalypse. His first two recruits are horsewomen, Storm and Psylocke. They also recruit the gruff fighter Angel... who apparently isn't the same Angel from X-men: The Last Stand. The final recruit is Magneto who will be all too happy to tear the world apart.

You will like it if...

You like the two most recent X-Men films. This third installment of the younger cast of X-Men films suffers from a lot of the same problems that The Last Stand did. An overly large cast ensures that no characters get enough screen time to truly shine other than Apocalypse. Even he ends up being a simplified version of the character from the comics. The script is at least coherent this time, but it is riddled with winks toward other characters and the previous films. These winks all too often end up being unintentionally campy. The script, like that of Superman V Batman, tries to do too much in a short time. That seems like a silly statement with the film being almost two and a half hours, but it is true. Fox has always had a problem with keeping continuity with their films, and this film has many continuity breaking moments. For all of its flaws X-Men: Apocalypse still manages to be entertaining in spots, but ultimately disappoints. I wanted to like this film as being a fan of Apocalypse from the comics. I very much enjoyed the Age of Apocalypse comics as well. This third film in the new trilogy makes a prophetic declaration in saying that "the third one is always the worst". At least it was not the disaster that was The Last Stand.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. The new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie comes out also, but I refuse, because Michael Bay. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 31

Sunday, May 22, 2016

I Have A Story To Tell

Everyone I know has a great idea for a novel and they want it to be written. They think writing is easy, but they want me to write their story. I can't write your story. Write your own. People don't ask Godzilla to raze whichever city you want him to raise terror in. Would people expect Godzilla to listen to them and do what they want? Let me tell you a little secret.

Writing Is Hard

It is really really effing hard. It seems easy. You think of a story, put together an idea, and put it on paper. Get some pretty notebooks, a purple ink pen, and let your thoughts bleed onto the page. Most people haven't actually TRIED to write a novel. They don't realize all the work that it involves, all the pain and anguish felt. The many versions of the story you go through, rewrites, and edits.

When you start out with that initial burst of energy it feels like you could go on forever. The words flow like honey over the pages making it stick to your eyes until tears begin to stream out. What happens when that initial burst of energy runs out? That dark place in the middle of your story that isn't fully developed. Sure there is a vague idea of what is supposed to go there, but will it be exciting enough to make the final cut of the book? Is it necessary to the main story? This is a critical stage of the novel where a lot of the character development and relationships are defined. Yet the middle parts aren't as exciting to write as the beginning or ending of the story. The journey to the final battle can be tough to get through.

The Plot Hole

Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. If you think the entire writing process is like that initial Roadrunner sprint then you are in for a rude awakening. That Coyote has a rocket strapped to his back and he has writer's block on his side. At some point we all change the way we think about a story and have to go back to add information that we feel should already be there. We could forget to include something that is vital to the part you are writing now. Perhaps while editing you delete a whole chapter because it was boring exposition, but it relays information vital to the story.

That, my friends, is the problem of the soul sucking plot hole zombie Smurf. Finding it can be as much of a pain as trying to plug the hole. It can cripple your story and make it so your beta readers write in red permanent marker "WTF" all over your manuscript. If you need to plug a hole then figuring out where to add the needed information is a pain and can feel forced if it doesn't fit the natural flow of the story.

NO

I am not going to write your story. You should try writing it first. I have so many ideas and not enough time to write them, and I very much WANT to write them. I write the ideas down in my idea notebook which is full of great story ideas. If you want to write one of them I will gladly share my story ideas with you. Please take them. They haunt my dreams like Freddy Krueger!

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Nice Guys

Rated R / 1 hr 56 min / Action - Comedy

What is it about?

A movie star named Twilight Sparkle crashes through a house and dies. Her aunt hires Ryan Gosling to find her. The aunt swears that she saw a purple glitter pony through a window where Twilight Sparkle used to live two days after their death. Russell Crowe is hired by Rainbow Dash to get some people off her back. She is scared for her life. The Smurf mafia breaks into Crowe's home looking for Rainbow Dash and they piss him off by throwing fresh fish at him. He decides to hire Gosling himself to help him track down Rainbow Dash to protect her. It turns out that Rainbow Dash looks like Twilight Sparkle a little bit and she is also the daughter of Gotham's mayor who may or may not be trying to kill her.

You will like it if...

You like detective mysteries with bumbling comedic detectives. Gosling provides most of the bumbling which is a new arena for him. His usual style of not being able to act any more than a block of wood actually fits the role. His deadpan delivery of the lines of script produce a few funny moments here and there. It is more a triumph of direction and the writing in the script than Gosling's performance. Still Gosling is likable enough next to Crowe to make the duo interesting to watch. Crowe provides his usual detective/tough guy role that he has reprized several times in the past. The script meanders about while still remaining interesting. The main characters at times seem like they are overly brilliant and then completely incompetent as each moment passes. This film could have been really good with different lead actors who were better and more practiced at playing comedic roles. The Nice Guys ends up being about as lukewarm as the title of the film. It is good for some light entertainment, but ultimately falls short of its potential. A decent film worth sitting through at a cheaper venue.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose X-Men: Apocalypse. Alice Through the Looking Glass also comes out next week! As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 24

  • How To Be Single - RomCom with not much Rom or Com.
  • The Finest Hours - Like similar storm/rescue mission stories that have been done before. They all seem to be based on a true story like this one is.
  • Zoolander 2 - Not as good as the original, but still has a few laughs here and there.
  • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi - Similar to other desert warfare/rescue mission films. This time based on a true story.
  • Risen: Haven't seen this one yet, but looks like it might be interesting.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Setting Goals

No matter what venture you undertake setting goals for yourself is important. It is easy to see the end goal that sets you on your path. Your end goal might be publishing a novel, world domination, or getting Godzilla to turn Tokyo into ashes. There is more to it than just setting an end goal though. How do you motivate yourself to reach those goals? Is it a realistic goal?

Have A Plan

Once you have an overall goal that you wish to accomplish, then it is time to hatch a plan. So you sit on the egg to ensure it is warm, and wait. The first step in coming up with a plan is figuring out all the steps you have to take to reach that goal. Break each step down further and further until you can break them down no further. Each step in the plan should be easy to accomplish.

With each step accomplished it is one step closer to reaching the overall goal. It is important to tick off each box, so you can see the progress that has been made. That feeling of accomplishment can push you forward to the next step. Progress always feels good. It's like the creamy filling in a Twinkie.

Set A Schedule

A schedule puts a time limit on reaching the overall goal. Meeting deadlines for each step can help curb the urge to procrastinate. Perpetually putting things off until tomorrow will only guarantee that your aspirations are a never ending quest. Like the quest for perfection in all things Pokemon. There will always be another monster to catch, so why battle Squirtle over and over.

I like to take each step in my plan and set my schedule a month in advance on a whiteboard. Then I track my progress as I go. Sometimes I do not make my deadlines because of unforeseen obstacles and that is OK, but sometimes I surpass the schedule set before me.

My biggest problem when setting a schedule is that I am too optimistic with what I think I can accomplish within the time frame. I could do what I set out to if I did not have other responsibilities and other events pulling at me to take up my time and energy. Many times I try to take on more than I can handle which causes me to fall short of the goals I set on my schedule. This is not the best way to set your schedule though. If you are constantly having to push back deadlines and setting lesser goals then it gives you license to procrastinate. Do your best to set a realistic schedule to accomplish your goals. If there are events that conspire to take time away from you then you should try to make up that time in other places.

Goals

Your plan, schedule, and goals help to set benchmarks that lead up to you accomplishing what you set out to do from the start. If you do this well enough then you can reach your end goal quicker and more efficiently than you could otherwise. This is what I try to apply to my writing. Each plot point in my outline is a step within my plan. I haven't been good about applying this to my editing process, but it worked very well for the initial draft of my novel. I had chapter and word count goals that helped to push me forward through the initial writing process. Editing and rewrites have taken me much longer than it should have because I have not planned out the process well and also not set an adequate schedule for completion. This weekend I intend to make a glorious return to a set schedule which will be followed by streamers and fireworks and the sparks from the fireworks setting the streamers on fire. Hopefully no one gets hurt.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Money Monster

Rated R / 1 hr 38 min / Drama - Thriller

What is it about?

George Clooney is a financial show wizard from the world of Harry Potter. His patronus is a dollar bill folded into an origami butterfly. He recommended that people buy a stock and then the stock tanked. He then told people to grow some balls and buy more of the same stock. Clooney is to interview the CEO, but they got held up in an epic Pokemon tournament and couldn't make it. Instead they send a lady who only wants to remotely cosplay Sailor Moon. Before he gets a chance to interview her a man holds him at gunpoint to force him to become a suicide bomber for the man's jihad against capitalism. Now the Money Monster has to find out what happened to the man's money or die trying.

You will like it if...

You like straightforward thrillers based in the financial world starring George Clooney. Clooney does a serviceable job as usual, but his dancing is pretty hokey at the beginning intro of his fake TV show. His performance is about what you would expect from him at this point in his career. Julia Roberts does an adequate job of playing his producer as well. While there are many tense moments that help push the film, you never feel like any of the characters are really in danger. The man with his finger on the detonator is kind of a tragic hero that pulls sympathy from the audience. The script takes a predictable track that eventually leads exactly where you would expect. While the main theme has to do with corporate fraud, the story stays firmly planted into its fictional world. In other words the story doesn't feel realistic in today's world. What you get in the end with Money Monster isn't a monster at all. More like a small dog in a tutu growling at a wadded up dollar bill. Money Monster is a lightly entertaining thriller that doesn't really thrill much. If you are interested and like George Clooney then I would suggest watching it on Redbox/Netflix when it is available there.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose between The Nice Guys, The Angry Birds Movie, and Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 17

  • The Witch - Horror with lots of tension, but few scares
  • Dirty Grandpa - Someone thought it would be a good idea to use Robert Deniro in a gross out comedy, it's worth a few laughs but not very good.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Experiments In Writing

Serious writers who write seriously and never have any fun at all. OK so I don't know anyone like that, but I do want to speak about other successful people I have seen in all walks of life. They are never satisfied with what they are working on. Everything evolves and can be improved. Nothing is ever perfect. With that in mind these people are always striving for perfection and always looking for ways to improve on what they currently have. My current Godzilla could be Mecha-Space-Godzilla in the future.

Mistakes are learning experiences, or as I like to call them, experiments. If you reach the desired result then you add it to your bag of tools to use when needed, but it doesn't stop there. You might find a better tool to use down the line that makes an older one obsolete. This can be applied to writing like nearly everything else.

Reading

Reading fiction from my favorite authors and others newer writers is probably the most important thing I can do to help improve my own writing. I wrote a whole blog post on critical reading where you can pull different things you learn from your reading experiences to apply to your own writing. I can't overstate how important the influence of other writers have on what you write, but when you apply it to your writing you must retain your voice. You are the best at being you. 

Writing Advice Books

Advice on the craft of writing is everywhere. There are many books written on the subject as well. These can help you with the general craft of your writing which can be a good thing, but it could also stiffen your words. Trying to fit your work within a strict template others have set out for you can dry out all of the personality of it. I have seen this time and again in film and TV. The story can be compelling and interesting, but with the personality of a block of wood.

Experiments

If you find something in a piece of fiction or writing craft advice that you want to use then try it out. Write something that uses it in your own voice. Not everything will fit in with your writing style. Writing styles are like fingerprints. If you try to meld a unique flavor it might make your soup not taste quite right. Not everything is going to work with what you are trying to do, and that is OK.

Keep what works and toss what doesn't. We are constantly evolving beasts and our writing is also. Constantly experimenting and trying different things can help you evolve and grow as an author. Now I have to see a man about a gamma radiation explosion. He told me not to make him angry.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Captain America: Civil War

Rated PG-13 / 2 hr 26 min / Action - Adventure - SciFi

What is it about?

The Winter Soldier is back to his old tricks of being brainwashed into doing evil deeds like double dipping his chips. He's caught on film cheating at Tic-Tac-Toe. As a result the King of Wakanda dies in a related freak accident. T'Chill, his son and new King, wants revenge. The governments of the world want to blame the Avengers for previous incidents in the Avengers films. They also want to take out The Winter Soldier. Captain America won't have it. He wants to save his friend Bucky so they can hold hands and go to Build-A-Bear together. Ironman sides with the government saying that there needs to be oversight for their superhero shenanigans. Vision just wants to hold the Scarlet Witch in his dungeon for some 50 Shades kind of fun.

You will like it if...

You liked the previous Avengers and Captain America films. Not as action oriented as the previous Captain America film, but there is quite a bit more variety. The large cast of superheroes makes this more like another Avengers film than a Captain America film. It's not necessarily a bad thing though. They introduce some new characters to the Avengers lexicon. Some you are familiar with like Ant-Man and Spiderman while others you might not be like Black Panther. With well over 2 hours of run time every hero gets a chance to shine no matter how minor of a character they are to the actual story. The script surprisingly uses very little of the original plot from the Civil War story arc in the comics, so hardcore purists might not be pleased. The cinematic Marvel Universe hasn't been afraid to tread new territory and take risks, but what they have done very well is to stay true to the characters. That has been the reason for much of their success. The plot of this film is deeper and more nuanced than Winter Soldier, but moves at a pace that gives the characters little time to contemplate the moral dilemmas they are presented with. My only real gripe with the film has to do with the way some of the action scenes are cut with a sped up camera zoomed in close and using jump cuts. It makes it hard to see what exactly is going on other than men grunting. Thankfully it only ruins a few fight scenes mostly toward the beginning of the film. Captain America: Civil War ends up being almost as good as the excellent Winter Soldier film that preceded it and takes it's place as being one of the best films to date in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If you are at all interested in this then you must see it.

Next Week

Godzilla will choose between Money Monster and The Lobster. As always the movie selection is subject to change based on what is showing here in theaters.

Upcoming to DVD on May 10

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Context

Hello everyone! If you have been following me on Twitter or been paying attention to this blog then some of you may classify me as an 'ally' or SJW or 'insane freaky ninja panda guy'. I really don't like any of those labels. First and foremost I am a person, and I believe that every other person deserves a certain level of respect. If you are reading this then you are most likely a human. If not, you're the reason I wear a tin foil hat!

This week what I want to talk about is something I have seen pop up from time to time where people are talking about banning or trying to attack people for using certain words. This is a form of social censorship. I understand that sometimes these words can be harmful to people for various reasons. I've said it before that words only have the power you give them. If you allow them to hurt you then they can and will. That's not the point of this blog post though.

Context and Intent

Banning words isn't going to fix this problem. People are going to make mistakes and be unintentionally harmful to others. Some will do so intentionally from a place of hate. Still I believe in hating the sin and loving the sinner. Even if they despise you there is no reason for you to internalize that hate. That is what they want. They want to drag you down to their level, so you will be just as miserable as they are. I prefer to rise above it and feel sorry for the anger and sorrow they carry with them. Anger is a heavy burden to carry and I don't have time for it.

I think that we should look at the context and the intent by which someone uses the word that has been harmful. It's on the person who uses the word and not the word itself. Obviously there are a few exceptions, but when we try to expand that to words that can be used in a non-harmful way then we get push back from people who are anti-politically correct. It's the intent of the word that makes it harmful. When it is used to separate groups of people and then describe them as being somehow subhuman or to be reviled, that is when it can be harmful.

It becomes very problematic when things are taken out of context. The press does this all the time to try to sensationalize a story. They try to create conflict and strife where there is none to sell a story. This kind of attack just creates unnecessary drama and stress for everyone involved.

Conclusion


Telling someone they can't use an otherwise seemingly innocuous word isn't going to keep them from finding other ways to deliver the same harmful message. It's the way these words are used that needs to change. Many of them work very well to describe an animal or plants or normal household items. The problem is when they are used in relation to people to separate and exclude groups of people to make it seem like they are something lesser. This kind of use is not OK.

I feel like most people are not intentionally harmful to others although I know some are. If we can explain why it is then we can all reach a deeper understanding and move forward as a people. It's not about banning a certain word, it is about communication. Taking into consideration the context can help with that.