X-Men Days of Future Past – Review

I’ve never been shy about my inner Geek.

Well, I can’t really call it my “inner” Geek, can I? I’ve posted about playing Star Trek Online with my kid (we’re watching Voyager now, by the way) and I’ve talked about nearly every comic-based movie I’ve gone to see in recent years.

So … the cat’s out of the bag, so to speak.

I am a Geek. I love comic books, super heroes, novels with magic in them, and the occasional game. And, of course, I love movies that highlight these things as well.

It’s no surprise then that I loved X-Men Days of Future Past. It’s counterpart – X-Men First Class – went a long way with repairing the whole X-Men mythos after the fairly disappointing renditions done earlier. (I’m sorry. Rogue is my favorite character and they sort of broke her entire story in those early X-Men movies, which made me hate them.)

In any case, X-Men First Class and X-Men Days of Future Past made my Geek-self happy. And, as was the case in X-Men First Class, much of this had to do with the casting of James McAvoy as the young Charles Xavier.

(Allow me a moment to fan-girl squee.) X-Men-Days-of-Future-Past-character-bio-James-McAvoy-as-Professor-X

I know Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine was sort of the main character in this film, and yes, I do so love that man as Wolverine but … If you can’t get Professor X right, then the whole X-Men regime falls flat on its face. McAvoy has this captivating voice, much like his counterpart in the film, Patrick Stewart, and it was fun to watch them play against one another.

I did have some consistency questions for the plot but in light of the whole I really don’t care. (It’s a movie about mutants with super powers, let’s not try and treat it as gospel, shall we?) All in all, I quite enjoyed this movie and look forward to any and all future installments.

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Story Bibles (aka – Consistency, People!)

A friend of mine uses a Wiki to keep all her files straight while she’s writing a book.  I’ve seen software designed to help maintain little “sticky-notes” to help authors as they’re in the middle of creating their fiction.  Both would fall under what I define as a “story bible”.

Basically, that’s the spot the author goes to in order to remember all the crap … uh … I mean brilliant details … they have written to help keep their story feeling real.  Because those details are important.  Details are what keep us grounded in a particular work.

(I heard a rumor George R.R. Martin got skewered for renaming a beloved horse in one of his books.)

Easy example … Harry Potter’s round-framed glasses.  If those glasses had changed at any point in the books I think Rowling would have been deep-fried by her fans.  You see those glasses and immediately you’re on the lookout for jumping chocolate frogs (also a detail) and people running for a brick pillar, heading for Hogwart’s train (yet another detail).

Now then … Until I started writing sequels to my books I never kept a story bible.  The characters and worlds were fairly clear in my head and I was stupid enough to think I wouldn’t really need one.

Saboteur isn’t really a good example of my needing a story bible because it took place in a part of the Dyngannon world that I’d never visited before.  But as I am currently writing the third book in the series (Usurper) and I am revisiting places both in Saboteur and Sedition

Yeah.

I’m wishing I’d went ahead and written one out.

It’s not so much the characters that worry me — I know who I want to show up where and why and what impact that’s going to have on the story — but the descriptions, the landmarks … those I might have some trouble with.

My solution?  A notebook.

I love that people can use technology to make Wiki’s and such, but there is just something about having my scribbles in weird margins, writing running vertical across the page, and using multiple colors that just appeals to me.

What can I say?  It’s a jumbled mess in my head, it’s going to come out bizarre on the page, too.

The only exception I have here is the notebook for Tapped.  That story bible is far more organized than any of my others.

Then again, it does have the outlines and big plot points for 7 novels and novellas in it.  That’s right.  I said 7.  There might even be more than that.  I’m not sure.  I think I could do it in 6 but the whole series has a very episodic feel to it.

And I’m looking forward to the novellas.  There are at least two of them.  So, technically, I could do the series in 4 books with 2 novellas tacked on.

I think.

But really, who wants to put a limit on a series about rescuing refugees?

Star Trek Into Darkness Review

That’s right.  This science fiction geek totally went to see Star Trek this weekend. I’ll admit that I sorta knew what was coming because I follow Tor.com and they had some reviews up there (they said not to read the bottom comments due to spoilers, but I read them anyway because … yeah … I just couldn’t help myself.)

Anyway, I enjoyed the movie.  No, scratch that, I loved the movie.  My mother and I had several debates about it because she is … Well, let’s just say I’m a Trekkie because she was a Trekkie first.  I was sort of born into it.

She was not so happy about certain plot elements that mirrored the old movies.  Me, I liked the fact that they did this.  As a storyteller myself I can see why they did it and where they were going.  My mother, on the other hand, was hoping for something new.

And, let’s face it, the whole point of Star Trek is to see something new.  They “boldly go where no man has gone before” and encounter “new life and new civilizations.”  So I do see where she is coming from.

(Mild spoiler: the very end of the movie seemed to suggest that any future movies within the Star Trek genre were going to head out into unexplored territory.  At least I hope that’s what that whole sequence meant.)

That said, I’m going to have to agree with some of the other reviews I’ve read on this subject and that is on the matter of James T. Kirk himself.  The last movie left his character rather smug.  I mean … of course, they were going to make him Captain.  He basically saved Earth.

This movie ripped that smugness away from him.  It helped him grow up.  The Captain Kirk that is now at the helm of our beloved Enterprise is one we can rally behind more fully.

So!

I loved the movie.  I loved the character growth within the movie.  I even loved all the tongue-in-cheek brushes we had with the older films.

Iron Man 3 – Review

All right!  So we all know I’m a comic geek and it shouldn’t be a surprise that I totally dragged my son to go see Iron Man 3 today.

I have adored Robert Downy Jr. as Iron Man and he did not disappoint in this third installment of the franchise.  In fact, his portrayal of Tony Stark felt even more genuine this time since the poor man was still recovering from the fight in Avengers.  We got to see him struggle with the understanding that he is not invincible, that he might not have what it takes to keep those important to him safe.

As an author who pays attention to characters, this movie really exposed that struggle in a vivid way.  Also, we got to see Tony fighting without all his cool toys.    Granted, we got to see a LOT of his “toys” in the end, but during the rough middle — that point where the character has been stripped of everything — Tony had to sort of get back to basics.

And I won’t lie, I totally adored that it was a kid who helped him figure that out.

Now, I do admit that something felt a little off in the movie.  After a great deal of thought, I’m going to point at the music.  I missed heavy metal blaring out.  I understand they were showing a different side of Tony, that the character was changing and the movie needed to help reflect that, but … dude … Iron Man needs that oomph.

Which brings me to my final point; Pepper.  I don’t want to spoil the movie (remember, I hate spoilers) but Pepper did something at the end of this movie that made me twitch.

Please don’t get me wrong.  Pepper is a strong character.  She has to be in order to survive life with Tony Stark.  But that strength isn’t really reflected in a physical form.

Now, I’m an author who writes female protagonists who kick serious butt.  I’m normally all for women getting gritty.  But that tendency has to be shown very early on.  The Pepper we’ve seen from the beginning wasn’t really like that, which is why this particular moment in the movie threw me off.

So!

All in all, I loved the movie.  I missed the music, but Tony’s journey was an excellent one to follow.

And my son … Yeah, he just loved all the suits.  (He’s five.  He doesn’t get the whole “heroic journey” thing yet.)

Red Dawn — Review (Yes, I mean the new one)

This was another one of those movies that I really wanted to see but had to wait because it didn’t seem appropriate for my five year old.  (I do try to be a good parent.)  So when I spotted it in the store this week I nabbed it, fully expecting to enjoy it because … Well … Chris Hemsworth was in it.

And we all know I’m a Hemsworth fan.

So anyway, I bought the movie and watched it.  And, of course, I enjoyed it.  I was a Swayze-Red Dawn fan, too, so I understood the premise.  When the movie first came out I heard a few grumbles about the fact that it didn’t make sense to go remaking a film that wasn’t all that old.

Honestly, that doesn’t bother me.  They keep remaking Cinderella and Snow White and Robin Hood (good heavens, how many Robin Hood’s are out there now?) into different versions, so why get all up in arms about this one?

It did have a major shocker in the end for me, which I promise not to spoil.  Just … you know … it’s a war movie.  Beloved characters die.  I should have walked into it with the same amount of reserve I have for a Scott Sigler novel.  Whenever I read one of his books I have to repeat the mantra; “Don’t get attached to the walking body count on the page.”

A pleasant surprise for me was the appearance of Jeffery Dean Morgan.  Given that I recently became a Supernatural fan, I couldn’t help perking up when I spotted him on the screen.  And he delivered one of the funniest lines in the movie, too, which was a plus.

Now then … for the actual plot … it wasn’t super different from the first version; a group of kids manage to escape an invasion and then turn around to wreak mayhem on the invading forces.  This was mostly an action movie, with lots of fun explosions and fast paced scenes.  I enjoyed it, even if I did want to smack one of the characters around for being an idiot.  (Watch it, you’ll see which one.)

So!  For a rating scale … I’d give it five stars.  Don’t go into it expecting profound revelations, just sit back and try not to get attached to any one character specifically.  They are at war, after all.

A Discussion on Sherlock Holmes …

 

So I’m sick this weekend, which is good timing since school starts on Monday so if I’m going to be sick, it might as well be now.  I’m hoping to be 90% better and climbing by Sunday night.  But that means I get to do lazy-fun things like watch movies.

I bought Sherlock Holmes Game of Shadows for Christmas and hadn’t gotten around to watching it until last night.  I enjoyed Robert Downy Jr. and Jude Law in the first Sherlock Holmes movie they put out, so I was confident I would like this movie as well.  And I did.  Those movies have a distinctly steampunk flavor to them, though that might just be the era they are written in.

However, I have to admit that the BBC’s Sherlock — which I watched several months ago on Netflix — has forever altered the way I look at Sherlock Holmes.  They are, in a word, brilliant.

So when I sat down to watch Downy Jr. and Jude Law go gallivanting through London I had to make a conscious effort to ignore the Sherlock and Watson duo that Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman had portrayed.

Granted, the BBC version is really an updated Holmes, putting him into our century with Blogs and things, so it is distinctly different from the period setting that we find in the movies.  But I promise you, if you watch the BBC version of Sherlock you will have the same problem as me.

So!

The verdict is that Game of Shadows was really quite good — even if it did rely on the shadow camera a bit more than the first movie — and the Downy Jr. – Jude Law duo is funny in an action-packed sort of way.    However, if you’ve read the books then you know how much dramatic license was taken with stuff there.  It’s a fun romp through Europe, but slightly less Holmes-ish due to all the action.

Watch it and enjoy it, and -then- you should go watch the BBC’s Sherlock.  That way you’re not spoiled by the Freeman-Cumberbatch performances like I was.  (Because seriously … they’re brilliant.)

The Hobbit Movie Review

My mother drove two hours up to my city so that we could go see The Hobbit yesterday.  We planned it for right after my first final — which was an oral exam that was quite terrifying, if I must be honest.

I was a little torn about The Hobbit since I didn’t like the book so much.  Bilbo drove me a little crazy with all his whining about home, which made it hard for me to get into the book.  But, I figured if anyone could make his character likable for me, it would be Martin Freeman, who I’ve loved as an actor forever.

And I was right.  Freeman’s portrayal of Bilbo was wonderful.  He whined a bit, but Freeman was able to make me understand why Bilbo was so out of place.

The surprise for me was Richard Armitage as Thorin.  The man downright captivated me as Thorin.  As a writer, I am constantly watching for those things that really define a hero.  You know, the kind of hero everyone wants to rally for, who gets up after getting knocked down and faces a foe they know they can’t defeat but fights anyway.  Armitage made that kind of a hero.

I loved it.

There were some awkward moments in the beginning that felt far more comical than I was expecting, and I nearly face-palmed myself when Bilbo said he had to go back for his handkerchief (though, if I’m remembering correctly, that was in the book) but Freeman’s Bilbo made that an understandable moment for me.  Rather than being annoyed, as I was when I read the book, I was amused.

My Mom did mention that she should have taken a motion sickness pill before we went, though.  She loved the movie, too, but I just thought I’d warn everyone.  If you get motion sickness a lot, you might want to take a pill before.

So!  It’s a great movie.  I’m looking forward to the rest of them and, if I could applaud the actors and crew for their work, I would.