My Fantastic Four rant

The Fantastic Four movie fascinates me. I saw it Friday and I still can’t stop thinking about how this movie, with this script (if indeed this was the original script), got made. (Spoilers ahead) I mean, it had essentially no second act and it barely had a third act. The movie was all first act, with the characters getting their powers, and then . . . well, that was pretty much it, except for a short and anticlimactic showdown that wasn’t set up at all.

It’s just bizarre.

I know there is supposed to have been trouble behind the scenes, but . . . no second or third act? Really? Just what sort of trouble was this? Did the executive producer lose a bet? This is just basic stuff, how you structure a story. These guys know at least this much. That’s their job. The heroes get powers, wrangle with the bad guy, who might also be getting his powers in the first movie, there’s some back in forth in the second act, the stakes get elevated (think the Green Goblin almost killing Aunt May in the first Spiderman movie), then the villain is about to achieve his goal and the good guys stop him in a big, climactic showdown.

That’s it. That’s your story. That’s pretty much every superhero origin story. It’s not rocket science. The details will vary (they better!), but the act structure remains constant.

So . . . what happened with Fantastic Four?

How . . . HOW did this movie get made? I’m really hoping for a documentary on the behind the scenes of this movie someday, because I’m am soooo curious.

Because this movie had potential. The first act, which was most of the movie, was just fine, if overly gritty and with teenage characters that should have been adults. But it was written, directed and acted just fine. It was a real movie. Until the first act ended, and then it wasn’t. But that first act shows that there were real writers and a real director at work on this thing, and they paid attention to details and pacing.

So what then? I’m not being snarky, or at least I’m trying not to be. I’m honestly curious. HOW did this movie get made, or at least released? If a movie isn’t ready, a studio will often hold it back until it is. So who thought this was ready?

 

http://io9.com/was-the-fantastic-four-reboot-doomed-from-the-start-1722904794

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Beware the Shoggoths! H. P. Lovecraft would be proud

Beware the Shoggoths! H. P. Lovecraft would be proud

Check this out, all fans of H. P. Lovecraft. Robert DeFrank has written a wonderful story told in high Lovecraftian style, a mode many have attempted and most have failed at. Robert captures that style effortlessly and transports you into a terrifically creepy story — I won’t mention any details for fear of spoilers, although the fact that it’s on shoggoth.net should give you a hint. I buy anthologies all the time that promise Lovecraftian thrills, but very few of the stories contained in them actually deliver. This one does, and I heartily recommend it. I hope Robert has some more like this in him, because if he does I will be a happy man. If not, though, thank you, Robert, for “The Mythos Path”.

You can find the story HERE.

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Darth Vader IS returning . . . in a prequel.

Darth Vader IS returning . . . in a prequel.

Historically, Darth Vader and Star Wars prequels don’t go well together, but maybe this will work. In any case, I would love to see more Vader, and I only hope he’s not as “behind the scenes” as the article suggests. Really, what’s the point to having Darth Vader in your movie and not using him?

In fact, I think this could be a backdoor way to bring Vader into the sequel trilogy. See if my logic follows. In Rogue One, the prequel, they set up some way that he could be brought back to life after his death, whether willingly or not, or perhaps they introduce some entity that would have a motive to bring him back, then, in Part Two of the trilogy, they give the payoff to that set up by actually bringing him back.

What do you think — possible? After all, JJ Abrams has gone on record saying that “Darth Vader IS Star Wars”, so you know that’s at least on his mind. And, in a broader sense, I doubt they’re going to be able to outdo Darth Vader as a villain. That’s an awfully steep hill they’d have to climb.

I’m not say I’d want this to happen, but it would be annoying to have them keep giving us villains in terrifying masks in an effort to ape Darth. If they could think of a compelling reason to reintroduce him into the story, and write him well, I’d rather just have Darth.

Check out the io9.com article HERE.

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A “Back to the Future” remake?

A “Back to the Future” remake?

Maybe not, says Robert Zemekis, co-creator of the beloved science fiction series “Back to the Future”, according to this article over on io9.com . He and fellow co-creator Bob Gale maintain they won’t allow a remake or sequel . . . within their lifetimes. Eventually, though, there will doubtlessly be follow-ups to the series. Hollywood execs have no boundaries on what they considered sacred or untouchable. They even created a prequel to “Wizard of Oz”, although, in all fairness, they did refrain from full-on remaking it. Of course, I’m sure that would have changed had the Sam Raimi-directed follow-up been better.

Obviously there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with remakes — “Scarface”, “The Philadelphia Story”, “The Wizard of Oz” — all remakes, all great. But the actual ODDS of remaking “Back to the Future” well enough to justify doing it seem small indeed.

The only upside I can see is that a remake would draw attention to the originals and spark a new generation to find and love them.

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Part Six of my epic fantasy series “The Atomic Sea” now available!

Part Six of my epic fantasy series “The Atomic Sea” now available!

Book release alert! “The Atomic Sea: Part Six: Wrath of the Deep”, the latest installment in my science fiction adventure /epic fantasy series The Atomic Sea, is now available for your Kindle.

You can find it here . . .

. . . in the US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010E27GWS 

. . . in the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B010E27GWS

 

At long last, readers can find out what happens to Dr. Francis Avery and his ragtag band after the tumultuous events of Part Five. Things are looking worse than ever, because now, finally, the dreaded R’loth, the terrible god-things worshipped by Octung and who created the Atomic Sea in the first place, have been roused to a exact an awesome revenge on the world . . . and to bring it under their dominion for all time.

How can Avery and the others possibly stop the R’loth before it’s too late? Things only get more complicated with the arrival of Segrul the Gray, a pirate admiral, and his grim fleet of cutthroats. He’s an old friend, and enemy of Janx, and the big man will have something to say about this before it’s all done.

If you like epic fantasy series and science fiction adventure, you might just be ready to take the plunge . . . into the Atomic Sea.

Again, the links to Part Six are . . .

. . . in the US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010E27GWS

. . . in the UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B010E27GWS

 

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Thoughts on Sense8, a new science fiction series on Netflix

Thoughts on Sense8, a new science fiction series on Netflix

Has anyone else seen Sense8? I just finished watching it the other day and found it a fascinating meditation on narrative, character and gender. If you enjoyed Cloud Atlas, Sense8 is probably for you. It is very much a continuation of those themes and that style of storytelling–different characters in different parts of the world, blurry gender roles and sexuality, shadowy forces out to get our heroes, etc. It’s a bit slow, but deliberately so, and beautifully realized. It’s not for everybody, but it is unlike any other television show that has gone before. I didn’t love it, and I didn’t devour it as eagerly as I do some other genre shows, but I found a lot to admire about it, even if I did have to look away during the mass-birth montage. It is certainly an epic piece of art, and kind of brilliant.

That said . . . to enjoy the show, you do have to have a strong tolerance for certain things, like gay stuff and a slow build-up, and that’s why I say it’s not for everybody. But if this is the sort of daring, quality stuff that Netflix intends on producing, I’m excited for what comes next.

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About Stephen King’s epic fantasy (ish) “Under the Dome”

About Stephen King’s epic fantasy (ish) “Under the Dome”

Okay, so I just finished Stephen King’s epic fantasy / sci-fi novel “Under the Dome”, and my reaction is very mixed. A lot of the book was fun and remarkably fast-paced for King. But then we get to the ending . . . ugh. I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it, but it left me deeply unsatisfied–and quite annoyed. Think “The Stand” levels of terrible endings, but maybe even worse. I’m used to King being unable to stick the landing, but . . . dang. Has anyone else out there read the book (s) and come away with a different impression?

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Okay, I couldn’t help it. I saw Mad Max: Fury Road again

Okay, I couldn’t help it. I saw Mad Max: Fury Road again

I saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” again yesterday, this time in 3D. I haven’t seen a movie twice in one weekend in awhile. It’s still amazing, although nothing can compare with that first-time jolt of adrenaline. One interesting thing I noticed that I missed the fist time — in the opening credits, Furiosa’s name appears on the same screen as Mad Max’s, but higher, although his name is on the left. But with hers being higher, they really do seem to have equal billing. Rewatching it, I was less bothered by Tom Hardy’s Mad Max voice, which seemed to vary in accent and inflection on the initial viewing but just seemed like his voice (however odd) on the second. Has anyone else seen it twice?

Mad-Max-Fury-Road-24

 

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About “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome”

ThunderdomeAfter watching “Mad Max: Fury Road” yesterday I was jonesing for more Max, so I popped in “Beyond Thunderdome” (I had just seen “Road Warrior” a few days ago), and I enjoyed it a surprising amount. Part of this was surely still being on the Fury Road High, but I think the bigger part came from finally “getting” it. I had never liked “Thunderdome” much before, although I had very much enjoyed the first third of it. When the attention shifts from Bartertown to the Lost Boys and Girls, I’d previously felt let down and irritated. I wanted more post-apoc mayhem and raiders, not kids! And so I’ve always felt toward “Thunderdome”.

Until last night.

Last night it hit me, the formula for all the Mad Max movies, and once the formula clicked in my head I was okay with the Lost Boys and Girls (LBaG) from “Thunderdome”. The formula is very simple: Max encounters post-apoc bad guys (who often wear black), setting up the threat; later Max encounters idealized good guys (who often wear white and have blond hair) who need his aid; Max resists helping; good guys are threatened by the bad guys; Max helps; good guys prevail. Max goes on alone.

Once I realized this formula, shortly after Max arriving in the valley of the LBaG in my rewatch of “Thunderdome”, I knew what to expect from then on and was actually pleased. Usually I hate formula and knowing what to expect, but somehow this was different. This was making sense of the previously annoying and bewildering plot turn of “Thunderdome”, where it went from awesome post-apoc villainy and action to . . . babysitting. No one wants to see Mad Max babysit. But once I realized the kids were the George Miller Idealized Good Guys (GMIGG) and were about to be thrown into conflict with Tina Turner’s Bartertown Baddies (TTBB), I was okay with it. I could enjoy the surreally perfect valley of the LBaG, just as I enjoyed the surreally idealized good folk in “Road Warrior” and the angelic beauties of “Fury Road” . . . and I could especially enjoy it knowing they were about to be thrown into the ring with TTBB.

Which they are, quite soon, even if the plot gets a little wonky at that point.

Max helps, there’s adventure, vehicular mayhem, and the ending is (no spoilers) typical Max. The ending’s tone isn’t quite as grim as Road Warrior, and I kind of wish it was, but it’s about the same content-wise. Anyway, typical Max.

There’s a couple of plot issues that I couldn’t resolve, though. Why did they need Master? The kids didn’t set out originally to find him, so why did Max suddenly decide they needed him? That whole thing seemed to come out of nowhere. Yes yes, I can see how Master would be helpful in rebuilding the fallen society, but this was never addressed that I can remember. It was never set up as a goal by Max or the kids: “Hey, there’s a guy that has the knowin’? Let’s go get him!” None of that.

That aside, it was a pretty decent movie. What I love most about it, other than the post-apoc mayhem, is the style. It’s done in a brilliant 80s high-adventure style, comparable to Speilberg or Lucas, and it’s marvelously done, with tight zooms, epic panoramas and tension in every frame. The first third of it feels like the Jabba’s Palace portion of “Return of the Jedi”.

All in all, I quite enjoyed my return to “Thunderdome”. How long will this enjoyment last? Once the Fury Road High has died down and I rewatch the movie someday, will I still dig it? Time will tell.

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Just got back from “Mad Max: Fury Road” . . .

Just got back from “Mad Max: Fury Road” . . .

It was awesome. Mad Max: Fury Road was the most testosterone-charged, explosive madhouse of a movie that I’ve seen in a long time.

It was so good it made me want to get into a car chase. Anyone up for some road action?

Will have to see Mad Max: Fury Road again. Soon.

There’s a lot more I could say about the movie, and some nits to pick, but really, why bother? It was amazing and has been seared into my brain in a way most movies can’t dream of doing. I hope and pray they make an immediate sequel to this. Hell, I hope they’ve already made it and that it comes out tomorrow.

Long live George Miller. Love live Fury Road. It is a lovely day.

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