Tag Archives: Movie Review

Jupiter Ascending

JupiterAscendingIt’s got some Wachowski-sized holes in its world-building, and it feels too long to sit through, but Jupiter Ascending has some of the very best sci-fi action scenes I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch. The running, the flying, the shooting, the fighting… all of it hung together in ways that made sense, and the directors luxuriated in slow motion for some of the best bits. If you want to go to the movies to watch people do cool things with toys we don’t have, Jupiter Ascending is a good choice.

But the plot holes? Ugh. Look, if you decide to see it, I recommend the brain-armor: anytime a non-Earthling says “DNA,” pretend they’re saying “magical soulprint,” because whatever they’re talking about has as much in common with actual DNA as pixie dust or midichlorians.

To my even-more-critical eye, the film looks like it suffered from a re-shoot, late story edits, and then a throwing up of the hands by the director, who then went on to say “there’s no more money and no more time, and the producer is done chasing sunk costs, so we’re releasing in February.”

Have I made it sound like I hated it? No. I loved the baroque BDO visuals, the ship designs, and most especially those action scenes, which bought the rest of the movie for me. I just hope that whoever is out there in Hollywood writing a really GOOD space opera can hit the same level of visual awesome that Jupiter Ascending did.

Seventh Son

SeventhSon-MovieSeventh Son was reasonably entertaining, the effects were good, and Jeff Bridges was funny, but ultimately it fell kind of flat for me. I grew increasingly annoyed with Bridges “accent,” which sounded exactly like his mouthful of marbles thing from R.I.P.D. The affectation  seemed to fit his character, but none of the accents in the film were consistent. To my ear, it sounded like a bunch of people from all over the world were dropped into one medieval fantasy setting, and nobody bothered to bring in a voice coach. It’s a bit of a nit-pick, I know, but if it hadn’t been for Bridges, I wouldn’t have noticed. In short, the seasoned actor broke the movie.

Seventh Son played pretty heavily to the medieval fantasy tropes, though I can’t speak to the books from which the film was adapted, not having read them. We get the usual Hero’s Journey stuff, piles of cliched dialog, and a painful-to-watch young romance.

Still, “reasonably entertaining.” As February releases go, this one meets expectations pretty squarely.

February’s Projects

I’ve got a full plate this month. Aside from wrapping up the climactic bits of Schlock Mercenary: Delegates and Delegation (the current story online) I need to tackle the bonus story, the cover, and the marginalia for Force Multiplication so that we can send it to print.

Then there’s the substantial task list for the upcoming Schlock Mercenary role-playing game, designed by Alan Bahr, with lots of input from me. The core game stuff is done, and once we’ve got some art to show off we’ll start building a Kickstarter page. That campaign will likely go live sometime in mid-March, and will support the production of a very nice, fully-illustrated rule book, and some odds and ends that will make some of our peculiar (maybe even unique) game mechanics fast, intuitive, and hilarious.

I say “we” with regard to the art. I’ll be doing a few, goofy comic-type things in the book, but most of the artwork will be the sort of thing that you’d expect to see in a wonder-invoking, far-future, science-fiction RPG book. Full-color, fully rendered characters, weapons that look like they’d actually work, and vehicles that are more interesting than the things I dash off with a straight-edge and a circle template.  Think of it this way: Schlock Mercenary, the comic strip, is the canonical story, but the comic’s artwork is mere caricature. The RPG book will show you that universe more clearly, and give you and your players much better starting points for your flights of fanciful shared storytelling.

Back to the task list: I’m also featured pretty heavily in the programming of LTUE, the SF&F symposium here in Utah on February 12th, 13th, and 14th (Thurs-Sat.) and at the end of February I’m flying to Chicago to record more Writing Excuses Master Class sessions.

You might get a movie review or two this month. I’ve seen Strange Magic and Into The Woods, and I’ll be seeing Jupiter Ascending, but the real time sink is actually writing them up.

And speaking of writing, I’ve got a bunch of prose fiction on my plate as well, so I should finish writing this, and start in on some actual work.

It’s 2015! Hello, Back to the Future, Part II

We watched Back to the Future, and then BackToTheFutureIIBack to the Future, Part II with our kids last night. The 2015 imagined by Robert Zemeckis was a satire (of course,) and lots of people have discussed where it hit and where it missed.

It was particularly interesting to watch my kids react to the film. Flying cars and hoverboards? Very cool! Self-drying clothing? Don’t be silly. People sitting around a microwave pizza engrossed in the programming on their wearable devices? Well, duh. Why’s that scene even THERE? We know THAT.

Remember the bit where Marty, Jr. watches six channels at once on the TV? My kids shrugged. Six is kind of silly. They max out at two or three — YouTube in one window, and a sandbox game like Minecraft or Terraria in a another,  and a play-through video in a third. Why would you do six if none of them are interactive?

All that aside, they liked the film, and they’re really looking forward to the third one at some point today. Me, I remember being kind of upset at the “downer” ending of Back to the Future Part II, and my memory of it was Marty standing in the rain. No, it ended with Doc Brown saying “Great Scott!” and then fainting, and those last moments of the film were far more enjoyable than I remember them. Maybe the films of the last 15 years have reprogrammed me to enjoy middle-act endings.

I could be wrong, but I think the big thing that Back to The Future Parts II and III gave us was a rebirth of serial cinema. Without their commercial success, Hollywood wouldn’t have greenlit Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, and comic-book movies might still be what they were in the 80’s. Hollywood thought Zemeckis was crazy at the time. I’m glad he had Spielberg on his side, because I’ve loved the serial cinema of the last 15 years.