Tag Archives: Movie Review

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.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

TheHobbit3If you didn’t enjoy the first two installments in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit franchise, you probably won’t like this one, either, because it doubles down on everything.

If you did enjoy them, this one pretty much sticks the landing. There were bits I didn’t like much (the Sauron/Necromancer “Jefferson Airplane” visual tops that list) but this didn’t feel overblown or too long. It felt huge, and justly so.

Tolkien tells us that there are battles in Middle Earth.  Jackson shows them to us. Tolkien tells us that there are thirteen dwarves in the party. Jackson shows them to us. Tolkien tells us that Laketown gets burnt by a dragon, and the survivors become refugees. Jackson shows us all that. The list goes on–The Hobbit is a short novel (by the standards of epic fantasy) because Tolkien does a lot of telling in between the showing. The Hobbit trilogy of films is a long movie (by the standards of genre-fiction films) because Jackson expands on the tells to give us a big show.

In order to make any of that engaging, we need to be seeing it through people with whom we identify. This is why during previous films we’re introduced to Legolas and Tauriel, Bard’s children, Azog, and the whole host of other named characters.  Each of the dwarves is his own distinct character, and Laketown is full of the faces of human people who look like they could be our neighbors.

I’m down with all of this. In fact, I’d be quite happy to see the trilogy with an additional 90 minutes of footage, because some pieces felt a bit short.

My biggest complaint (aside from the 60’s music-video effect for Sauron) lies in the fact that some of the lines I remember from the book weren’t in the movie. But without the book I wouldn’t have noticed. So, yes, the purists will again be frustrated.

My second-biggest complaint is that I think these films are best appreciated across three nights with the same group of friends and/or family, and that’s not how I saw them. If you haven’t seen any of them yet, renting the first two and then seeing the third might be downright delightful.

I saw the HFR 3D version, and it was gorgeous. No shaky-cam! And Middle Earth looked real enough to walk right into. Also, I don’t want to walk into this part of it. Five is at least four too many armies.

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies clears my Threshold of Awesome, and comes in at #6 for me for the year, just behind Godzilla.