Category Archives: Crossposted

The Angry Birds Movie

TABMThe Angry Birds Movie is better than it has any reason to be. Lots of movies pull this off, but this movie manages to turn a mobile puzzle game into delightful cinema. That divide is huge, the chasm that must be cleared is—no, I’m not going to use that metaphor. The slingshot joke is low-hanging fruit. You can all see it coming, and the film deserves better than a metaphor pulled from the bottom branches of the tree.

That principle, “don’t settle for the low-hanging fruit,” is what makes The Angry Birds Movie so delightful. The story follows a predictable form, and there are tropes that simply must be present for the story to flow, but the filmmakers were not willing to settle for simply filling out the forms and making it pretty. And I’m not talking about “exceeding low expectations.” No, this film is what happens when a storyteller who takes pride in their work seeks to exceed their own expectations.

For me, The Angry Birds Movie is the second surprisingly enjoyable video game adaptation this year. It gives me hope—actual hope, complete with giddy anticipation—that the Warcraft movie can clear the “better than it has any reason to be” bar with the same amount of air.¹

The Angry Birds Movie clears my Threshold of Awesome, and yes, if you look at my list, I did, in point of actual fact, have more fun during that film than I did during Captain America: Civil War.


¹If there are pigs in the Warcraft movie, I want that movie to clear the bar, then sail across the screen and knock down their houses­².

²THERE I got it out of my system.

Pre-Orders Open on Monday

Pre-orders for Force Multiplication, Schlock Mercenary Book 12, will open on Monday, May 23rd at 8am Mountain time. 


We’re quite pleased with how this book turned out. The stone circuit cover design defines the style we’ll be using for books 12 through 17, and the stuff inside the cover is at least as cool as all that. I love the bonus story that Sandra wrote, and Natalie Barahona’s art is perfect for it. I’m also pleased with the way the Force Multiplication story reads when reading it in one sitting. It’s pretty tight, if I do say so myself.

Force Multiplication is $20.00 + shipping.

Numbered sketch editions are $10 more, and only about 600 of those will be available. If you want one, you need to place your order quickly.

Monday, May 23rd, 8am Mountain time. Maybe mark your calendar?

Other Announcements

As long as you’ve got your calendar open, there are a couple more things to maybe pencil into it.

June 3rd: Planet Mercenary Backerkit Lockdown

PM-LockDown1If you backed Planet Mercenary, on June 3rd you will no longer be able to change your order. Credit card processing will begin then, so now might  be a good time to make sure the card (especially the expiration date) is still valid.

You WILL still be able to change your shipping address after June 3rd.  Details are over here on the Kickstarter Page.

Note: We cannot combine Planet Mercenary Kickstarter shipping and Force Multiplication pre-order shipping. Sorry!

July 1st: Registration closes for the Out of Excuses 2016 Writing Workshop and Retreat.

WX-Logo-2016BluesIn a nutshell, this event is a Caribbean cruise for writers and students of writing. It’s hosted by the Writing Excuses team, and it will the second time we’ve held the event in the Caribbean.

If you’re interested, don’t delay registering because you might not have until July 1st. We’re limited to 150 attendees, and when we reach the attendance cap, registration closes.


Captain America: Civil War

CapCivilWarStake in the ground: Captain America: Civil War is the best Spider-Man movie we’ve had so far.

It is also a solid Avengers movie, an unflinching follow-up to Age of Ultron.

It is a pretty good Captain America film, but there are so many important players in the story it doesn’t really feel like Cap’s movie. That poster is crowded, and it’s still missing two of the costumed combatants¹.

The real question is not whether the film lives up to its title. It’s whether it lives up to our expectations for Yet Another Awesome Marvel Movie. Here I will unequivocally affirm that maybe it does, but it was kind of long, and for the love of Uncle Ben can we PLEASE hold the camera steady?

Yeah. Shaky-cam. A lot of it. During fight scenes, of course, but also on a couple of no-stunt, not much movement shots where we’re supposed to feel tense and off balance.

Dear Hollywood: STOP THAT. Those moments were plenty tense without the wobbly tilt-and-jiggle that managed to induce actual motion sickness.

Here’s a comic-book trick, Hollywood: keep the camera steady, but shoot those tense, off-kilter moments at a slight angle. During fight scenes, keep each shot steady, but give us steep angles. These people are flipping and jumping off of walls. Camera angle will sell their dynamic, athletic heroism far better than shaky-cam will, and will also let you showcase the amazing work that the stunt team has put together². Oh, hey, you already know that trick, because you used it perfectly on Spidey’s action. What’s the excuse for not using it elsewhere?

Fortunately the big ensemble fight was minimally shaky. Unfortunately, I noticed. “Oh, hey, I can finally see what these people are doing!” followed quickly by “I sure wish I could have seen the action earlier. I bet it would have been cool.”

But back to Captain America, and the question as to whether or not this was his film. One of Cap’s best speeches from the comic books (the one that has the word “move” in it, and which I won’t spoil³) is not delivered by Cap in this movie. It is delivered by somebody for whom it is perfectly in character, but it is delivered to Cap, not by him. So, for an audience a thousand times the size of the audience familiar with the original quote (at least) this epic, quintessential Captain America speech doesn’t belong to Cap anymore. So… I don’t think this is really his movie. He’s in it, and central to it, but it belongs to the players around him.

Who are awesome, just so we’re clear.

Captain America: Civil War squeaks past my Threshold of Awesome on the strength of a great story and a strong ensemble, but only enters the list at spot #5 thanks to the weak and trembling hands of whoever was holding those cameras.


¹ Spidey and Ant-Man, who were an exceedingly entertaining addition to the line-up. And yay! This awesome new Spidey is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and is getting his own movie!

² I think closing credits for films like this should list the stunt performers right next to the actors for whom they doubled. Their physical performances were a huge part of creating the character on the screen. I bet they’re not being paid enough, either.

³ Okay, fine. It’s behind this link. And don’t get me wrong, the line is delivered brilliantly in the film, and it feels more powerful for not having come from Cap.

When we can actually see them, because as long as I’m still holding this hammer I might as well pound that nail out the back of the board, and then pick it up again and pound on it some more. Maybe with enough nails the camera will hold still.

Ratchet & Clank

Rachet&ClankNeither of the adult children (ages 20 and 18) I took to this film had ever actually played the Ratchet & Clank games. Both of them loved the film.

I was pleasantly surprised by it. In particular I was surprised to find myself laughing out loud.

After the third time it happened I began paying attention. I’ve concluded that the team responsible for this film has a really solid understanding of comedic timing. A great many of the jokes were dumb, or were very simple physical humor, but they were so well delivered, and included enough fresh components, that I laughed out loud in spite of having anticipated the punchline.

If you’re a student of humor, I think this film bears scrutiny.

If you’re not a student of humor, and that’s probably most of you, the film is a lot of fun. The voices are spot on, the designs are wonderful, and the animation is quite good. It shows off the finesse we’ve come to expect from Pixar and Dreamworks, but it comes from a studio without that sort of pedigree. (Looking at Ratchet & Clank‘s company credits on IMDB it’s hard to say just which studio handled most of the animation. If it’s CNHK then it’s their debut effort, which is doubly impressive.)

Parents of young children should consider this one. I think little kids will love it, and I almost (read: not at all) wish I had little kids to take to the movies.

Of the movie adaptations of video games I’ve seen, I can’t recall any of them being this enjoyable. Thanks to the great time I had with my big kids, Ratchet and Clank clears my Threshold of Awesome, and enters my list at #4 for the year.