Okay, so I was Wrong–The Expanse is a Really, Really Good Show!

Picture of the cast of the Expanse with a stylized logo of the show's title.
Image Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/robsalkowitz/2019/12/12/amazon-relaunches-tvs-best-sci-fi-show-the-expanse-for-season-4-friday/

So, sometime last year, I finished the first season of The Expanse, and to put it mildly, I was NOT impressed. I thought it was okay, but fell too far into the “Game of Thrones” arena where “bad things happen to good people.” It didn’t help that the show was marketed as “Game of Thrones” in space. I tried two separate times to get past the first episode of Season 2, but I couldn’t–I just thought that I didn’t like the show and that it was, while not bad, not something that I was ever going to like.

However, fair is fair. If I called it out on the blog and I change my mind later, then I’m going to let you know.

So I’m saying it now: I Was Wrong! The Expanse is a GOOD show!

Season 2 and Season 3

Part of the problem is that the show doesn’t really hit its stride until about Episode 2 or 3 of the 2nd season. Like Season 1, the first couple of episodes are more about “set-up” than they are about pure plot. Characterization is always present, but in Season 1, I wasn’t really invested in the characters. However, with Season 2 and especially Season 3, the characters are really tested by the plot and they interact to turn the show into something really special (& really good)!

Without spoilers, let’s just say that everything rises to a crescendo, ramps down after the resolution and then rises a second time to an even more insane and awesome resolution. I think the key is that 1) the characters are ALWAYS acting/reacting based on plot. This is the rare show where plot reveals characters and the characters’ actions drive the plot.

Season 4

So, I binged this show a couple weeks ago when my car was in the shop being repaired. I watched all of Season 2, 3, and 4 back-to-back. While I didn’t think Season 4 had the same insane level of wildness as 2 & 3, I did feel that it was still great and much better than Season 1. I hope that they do a Season 5 as I really want to see where they take the story (yes, I know they are based on books, and I may dip into them a little later, but right now the show has its “hooks” into me).

The characters are really well rounded (now that I’ve seen their arc over more episodes than what was presented in Season 1).

Overall Grade: A

Again, as this is a public forum, I feel compelled to let people know when I get it wrong (& this is one of those times). This is a strong show with compelling characters and an absolutely crazy storyline that really shines in Season 2 & 3. While it doesn’t beat The Mandolorian as my favorite sci-fi show, it has leap-frogged quite few series to become one for which I can’t wait to see the next season.

Sidney


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Recapturing the FUN of Writing

A picture of a bridge in London over the Thames river with Big Ben in the distance at night time with cars going over the bridge. A caption is at the top of the image.  The caption says: "I'm doing it MY WAY."
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkmU9tp8dN8

So, I was able to publish one piece last year, HawkeMoon, and it was published in the magazine StoryHack. You can find the link to it in the signature field down below. I was only able to finish one other short story last year, Starlight, Starbright, and it is out to a publisher (and has been out for well over 3 months to that one publisher–this is looking more and more like a 5-6 month “monstrosity” of submission period).

Essentially then, my output consisted of 1 publication and 1 finished story/submission. Not great. Add that to my abysmal blogging record (especially the latter half of the year) and you can see that my writing output really took a nosedive. Why might that be you ask? Well, obviously school had a huge impact, along with work during the first 6 months of the year. Add to that, I was sicker in 2019 than I was in 2018 with various illnesses and you can easily see where a lot of my writing time went.

Or can you?

How One Set of Writing Guidelines Ruined My Love For Writing

Yes, it’s true. Reading just one set of (what I now know) dismissive guidelines really affected my writing last year and helped to produce a writing slump that I’ve not had in years. Yes, all the reasons above contributed, but when I think back to 2019, one set of writing guidelines that I read sticks out as the single most destructive thing that I’ve read that made me change the way I write (in a negative way).

The guidelines, from a market that will remain nameless, stated in unequivocal terms that this editor is seeing a distressing trend of writers of short fiction using scene headings for short stories in the same way novel writers use chapter headings and that he (yes, it was a he) found it a bad practice in general, and something that he would not publish in his magazine specifically.

But, I Like Scene Headings

No story that I’ve written (and that has been published) doesn’t have some sort of scene headings. I like them, but more importantly, it is the way that I tell my stories. It makes sense to me and helps me to organize my narrative in such a way that it helps me build the story structure that editors and readers want. To me, a “title” implies an image or theme, and then the actual draft/text/writing is just how I chose to articulate that image/theme. Without it, I tend to get lost or just meander and not actually tell a story. The title, scene headings, etc., are a “mental promise” that my prose/text fulfills.

That’s one of the reason why I’m having such issues finishing my “space truckers” story (Project Independence) for the Jan 31st, 2020 deadline. There are no “scene headings” in the story–because while I didn’t write it for this market–I did read the guidelines about the time I started the new draft and had the admonitions of this particular editor ringing in my mind.

Writing MY Way (& No One Else’s)

This is why I’m so resistant to following the crowd and other people’s ideas–when I do so, they tend to lead me down the primrose path to ruin. When I follow what I want to do, it doesn’t always work out, but at least I know that the work is something that is fun for me and represents the best that I was capable of at that particular time.

Project Independence isn’t fun–it’s a chore to slog through. I’m hopeful that I’ll finish it on time, I already feel that I’m going to have to go back in and revise it again (with scene headings) and more “connective tissue” to get it like I really want it. Had I ignored the editor’s snooty, holier-than-thou attitude about scene headings and written it the way I wanted to, then I would have enjoyed writing the story more and would have less revisions to do even once I finish it.

Will I ever submit to that editor again? I’m not sure–he’s already rejected every story that I’ve sent him (5-6), so that may mean that our tastes in speculative fiction aren’t compatible. However, I do know this: any story that I send to this editor in the future will be written with scene headings.

I’ll just create a “clean” copy without them expressly for his market. I’ve learned my lesson (I hope). From now on, I’m writing not only what I want, but the way I want to as well.

Sidney


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Project Arizona: 1st New Writing Project of 2020

Image of a female gunslinger with long flowing duster, guns, throwing knives, and hands out to her sides, ready to draw.
Image Source: https://8tracks.com/orsonleigh/the-weird-weird-west

Now that I’ve finally gotten both my financial aid and car situation fixed, I can finally concentrate on other things, like writing! Wait, you might be saying, what do you mean, car situation? In the last post, you only mentioned your financial aid woes. Well you, perceptive reader, would be correct–there were indeed additional complications to my life last week that I may get around to blogging about this week (or maybe not, as I have a slew of posts that I’d like to write), so my excessive navel gazing might not be captured into words (or maybe it will, who knows at this point?). Suffice to say that, as of now, both issues are fixed (as far as I’m aware) and I just finished the “story outline” for my next story, the first of 2020.

Weird West

So, Project Arizona is “fantasy” story set in the time of the Old West. There’s a subgenre name for it: Weird West. This won’t be the first Weird West story that I’ve done–I actually published a Weird West story entitled, “Wylde West” some time ago (actually, within the first year of the blog’s creation). I even did a post where I took a picture with my phone of the front and back covers of the journal where it was published. At some point, I will probably add that to the blog as the rights have long expired and it was published in a limited edition run of a journal that cannot be ordered anywhere anymore.

What if . . . a Fantasy Story meets the Western

This is essentially the conceit of what a Weird West story is: fantasy stories set in the Western (American) frontier. I think that I’ve come up with both a unique premise as well as a pretty cool character in Arizona, the protagonist of the story (of course, I thought that with my story, Silence Will Fall, only to have the trailer A Quiet Place to be released a few months later and now, since that movie has become such a central icon, I can’t even send out my story as it looks like I’m blatantly copying their movie and “ripping” them off. I hope I’m not in for the same aggravation as there is a game publisher also working on a Weird West game (just called Weird West) and I can but hope that mine is distinctive enough that I don’t get called to the carpet as someone who is just “ripping off” other properties–again, this one has been kicking around in my mind for a while, but I only set it down on paper as a tangible idea recently (around Thanksgiving of last year–yes, that predates the game’s “official” announcement, but :rolling eyes: we all know what that means these days).

Story Outline Completed

As I type these words, I’ve completed the favorite part of the writing process and will add it to my “Signature” at the bottom of the post. I’ve completed the “story outline,” which just means that I know where the story will go from beginning to end. In the old days, I would have just stopped there and called it a day, but as I’m working with character to integrate characterization more fully into my stories, I also added in my character’s (Arizona’s) FLAW. I made sure that the third act put her in a situation in which her flaw was exposed and that she has to make a choice, either give in to her flaw or not. This is where the INTERNAL CONFLICT of the story will happen. My the very nature of the setting (fantasy version of the Old West), I have plenty of EXTERNAL CONFLICT (which is what I’m good at creating), but I’m specifically trying to build in more in terms of characterization. I do know Arizona’s “backstory” (although it is in my head and not yet set down on paper) and that I think will be the next component to the story–putting down a character sketch of Arizona.

I will let you all know what happens whenever I revisit this project (which will hopefully be a weekly endeavor, but I’m not putting any time limits/deadlines on it–I work better when I can just write without putting undue pressure on myself. So, here’s to a 2020 that’s filled with loads of writing (for school, yes), but also for me creatively.

Sidney


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Red Tape = My 2020 is Looking a Lot Like My 2019

A Man bound up from head to toe in red tap.
Image Source: http://www.idioms4you.com/complete-idioms/red-tape.html

Sorry that I’ve not posted in a while. It isn’t that I’ve fallen away from blogging, but rather that, like always seems to be my lot in life, I’m too busy trying to solve problems and then find myself too exhausted to blog.

I’d hope this would be a “look at all the amazing things that I’ve accomplished/have happened to me” so far in 2020, but no, I’m stuck trying to solve an ever increasing list of problems. A while back I did a blog post entitled, “Sometimes the Bear Eats You,” and while it isn’t quite that bad, it is creepy closer and closer every day (esp. since the calendar turned to 2020). Here is a look at one of those problems:

A Tale of Two Offices: Financial Aid & College of Graduate Studies

So, I won’t go into excruciating detail about the problem (believe me, I could), but the basic crux of the problem is hours: Financial Aid Office says I don’t have enough while CGS says I have the appropriate amount.

Basically, it boils down to the fact that now that I’ve finished my course work and only have Dissertation hours left, I only need to use 3 of them a semester. This is fine for CGS as long as notify them with a form (which I’ve done) and get signatures from two relevant professors (which I’ve done) and then they’re supposed to notify the relevant offices and all is good.

However, that’s NOT what’s happening (of course not, otherwise my life my not be so hectic and stressful and I might actually get a chance to work on my blog–or the 50 other things that I want/need to do). When I went to “talk” with CGS yesterday, they assured me they talked to the “bursar’s office,” but apparently that is not the same as the Financial Aid office as my Financial Aid was NOT applied.

When I went to talk with the Fin. Aid office, I was told that I didn’t have enough hours–that 5 hours was the mandated federal limit for hours (even though I’m a PhD student working on my dissertation and am not taking “classes” per se–I STILL have to “honor” this stupid requirement if I want Federal Financial Aid).

Living Graduate Student Life as an Undergraduate Student

A similar, but slightly different problem caught me out last semester and put me on the backfoot that helped to keep me behind all semester (a significant contributing factor to me not getting work on the blog as much as normal last year) as I had to go down to the wire in order to get Financial Aid at the 11th hour. I like MTSU, I really do, but large colleges really need to do more in terms of either lobbying or engaging with their student population to lobby on their behalf about changing regulations that are detrimental to their student populations.

As a graduate student, it is assumed (in the university, at least) that I know how “do school.” I’m expected to know how to research, how to manage my time effectively, how to teach (a major part of my Graduate experience as I am a Graduate Teaching Assistant), and how to do all of the major “school” functions as necessary. Yet, the Financial Aid office (and the regulations they operate under) treat me like an “undergraduate.” Why, if I’m working on a dissertation, do I need the archaic “5 hour” rule? I’m not a neophyte who is taking federal money just to sit around and do nothing–I’m a neo-professional, who is trying to learn the craft of “being a professor” (being a GTA) while also producing something original at the same time (the dissertation). The only thing the 5 hour rule is doing is blocking me and keeping me from my goal. I have to have the financial aid in order to continue here, but I can’t get it unless sign up for an arbitrary number of hours just to prove to the “US government” that I’m not a “layabout” sponging money off the American Taxpayers (money that I will have to pay back, I might add as the only financial aid good ol’ Uncle Sam provides at my level are Federal loans). Sorry to break out an oldie, but it is one of those “things that make you go hmm.”

Not Happy

As I’m sure you might have noticed from my acerbic parentheticals, I’m not happy about the situation. I wasn’t thrilled the first time I was caught up in this morass, and I’m even less thrilled to be going through this a second time. Anyway, hopefully the year will get better so that the tone of the blog posts can improve. However, if the beginning of 2020 is any indication, it’s going to be a llllllllllllllllllllooooooonnnnnngggggggggggg year (and I had so many high hopes as Sealab 2020 was a fun show that I often watched as a child. I find it amazing how a year can go so wrong, so early in its tenure.

Sidney


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Happy New Year! Welcome 2020!

Pink fireworks blooming like flowers over a cityscape and river.
Image Source: https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g13502602/best-places-to-celebrate-new-years-eve/

Just a quick note to wish everyone a Happy New Year and a joyous, prosperous 2020!

Sidney


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Merry Christmas 2019!

White, Red, and Green wrapped Christmas Gifts all in a stack.
Image Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/shopping-and-consumer-news/11278164/Revealed-formula-for-finding-perfect-Christmas-present.html

Hi Everyone! I just wanted to take a quick moment to wish everyone reading the blog a safe and wonderful Christmas this year. I hope that your holiday is both joyous and restful! Merry Christmas to you all!

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




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    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

The YouTuber vs The Director: Why Hollywood Needs to Stop Being a "Closed" System

Gameplay capture from a “modded” version of Empire at War (Star Wars Fleet Battle Strategy Game)

Hi Everyone,

So sorry for taking an extended break from the blog. There are reasons, which I will articulate, but probably in a post sometime in the New Year. Right now, I just want to say thank you to those who have stuck with the blog by reading older (and liking) many of the older posts here. I will be posting more regularly here (I haven’t gone away from blogging; I just needed to take a break–again, I’ll go into those reasons later). Again, a big thank you for sticking with the blog!

Right now, however, I really want to talk about Star Wars for a moment, now that the newest movie has released. Now, I’ve NOT seen Rise of Skywalker as of yet. Will I see it (at the theaters)? I’m not sure–so far, the reviews that I’ve seen have been mixed. I think I will probably email a professor that I know who is an ardent Star Wars fan to see what their reaction is and, if the professor likes it, I’ll probably attend a matinee showing in January before the new semester starts again. However, while watching a YouTube video, I discovered another reason why the previous movie (w/Rian Johnson at the helm) didn’t work for me and that has to do with an “amateur” (as Hollywood would see them) seeming to know and care more about the Star Wars universe than the director (and “professional” as Hollywood would brand them) does based on the content that both have “created.”

The Case Against Rian Johnson (and the script of The Last Jedi)

So, I’m probably “blacklisting” myself as I have designs of writing screenplays in the future, but in watching the YouTube video that I linked to above (don’t worry–at over 50 minutes I don’t expect anyone to watch the whole thing, but watching 10 mins or so, especially in the middle, should make it clear to readers why I chose to include the video). Now, before I lay out my major argument, let me be clear: while I respect Rian Johnson as both a person and director (I’ve never met the guy, so I have no opinion on him outside of his work–for me, it is the “content of one’s character”) in ALL situations), I’m not a fan of his science fiction efforts. Looper was something thing I couldn’t even finish, while The Last Jedi was disappointing to me as a lifelong Star Wars fan. While I understand the need to distance the old characters and invite the new characters, I felt that there were so many better ways that this could have been accomplished. Going against conventions just to be “radical and new” doesn’t necessarily mean that it is good. And that’s the main problem that I saw with The Last Jedi: its desire to show the main protagonists in the story in a different light that had already been explored. I won’t go into a long diatribe about it, but will ask all those who liked Knives Out–his currently critically acclaimed movie–a question: what if I took the characters in that movie and wrote a sequel in which none of them acted liked they had in the first movie and rewrote the ending so that none of it happened the way the first movie made it appear? (Don’t worry, there’s no spoilers as I’ve yet to see the movie) .Would you then think that this new movie was “cool and unique?” Chances are good that you would hate my script because neither the characters nor the world had anything that made them who they were–just changing them “to subvert expectations” would likely appear arbitrary, capricious, and dare I say, stupid (for an exercise, I may just write that script whenever I do see Knives Out just to show how subverting expectations isn’t really “clever” when it is done to something that someone else likes–when the person doing that subverting doesn’t really like it themselves–assuming, of course that I don’t like Knives Out).

Why Does a YouTuber Display More Reverence for Star Wars Than a Director (or Producer)?

Yet, for all my whinging on about Rian Johnson (and by extension, the producers of the newest trilogy), there are many people who are passionate about the series–but more importantly, who are knowledgeable about the Star Wars universe. In some ways, it seems like there are fans who know (and care) more about the property than the creators of that series. Now, there is a YouTuber who goes by the handle of TheXPGamers who produces quite a bit of Star Wars content. In this particular case (for the video that I linked above), he is playing a Star Wars game published by Lucasarts Games before the Disney buyout that deals with giant spaceship fleet battles between the forces of the Empire and the Rebels. Even though he is playing a “modded” copy (meaning that another software author has created a patch that changes the look, feel, and gameplay elements) of the original/base game, just from viewing a short portion of the video, one can see two things are evident: 1) his passion and 2) his knowledge about the SW universe. First, his passion is clear–he loves this series and learning more about it and he’s clearly invested in the lore. Second, he has both knowledge of the lore, but also strategy and how it applies to the SW universe. He is clearly a master of the game and of the tactics used to win.

And here’s my ultimate point: Rian Johnson got criticized for many things, but one of the major things that people called “BS” on was his fleet interactions. Now look, I know how hard writing is, but this where being a “closed” system hurts Hollywood. How hard would it have been to call in TheXPGamers as a “consultant” or even as a reader to help “punch up” the scenes dealing with the fleet? And if he did a good job there, then perhaps touch on characterization and other things in order to improve the script? Oh, but that’s not the way Hollywood does things–they don’t want to be sued for “stealing ideas.” Granted, that is a thing, but Hollywood wants a hit, but isn’t always sure what will deliver one. In dealing with art, the only time they seem to want to take risks is when they already have an established property (a la SW) that has a built in fanbase–but to actually open themselves up to 1) original properties/screenplays or 2) allow outsiders to come in and help shape there projects–no, that is NOT allowed. Yes, I’m aware of the “guild” structure and the like, but my point remains: if you have resources at your disposal to help you and you chose not to use them, then you cannot very well become upset when the fans call “BS” on a story/story elements. The “chase” in The Last Jedi was central to the storyline, but based on what was written in the script and presented onscreen, the director knew little-to-nothing about the “boring” ship-to-ship battles in the SW universe, so let’s make it “exciting” with a “chase” sequence (because “chase” scenes = tension, see Bullitt). However, as linked in the video, TheXPGamers knows how large fleet warfare works in SW, can describe it effectively, and can illustrate the reasons and rationales for certain decisions to be made, so why not use him as a resource as well, not to mention Lucas and any other SW alumns who are still working with (Filoni, Chow, or even other SW directors/artists/conceptual designers, even actors) come quickly to mind. And that doesn’t even count the legion of fans who have produced content (via the internet or in other forms) who have massive amounts of knowledge as well (but because they aren’t “professional”–i.e., known in Hollywood industry circles–their opinions and knowledge doesn’t count). Look, I get it, we all have to “pay our dues” if we want something, but not all “dues paying” looks exactly the same. If some pay there dues through YouTube videos, some through extensive reading and writing, and some by directing, shouldn’t that count for the same? Why does directing a moderately successful Sci-Fi movie give you access to the reins of the biggest, most important Sci-Fi franchise out there, but producing content (in the form of YouTube videos) on that very same large, successful franchise earn you nothing but contempt and being ignored by the very movie studio/entity producing that franchise?

Until Hollywood realizes that not everyone who isn’t “in” the industry is not the enemy, I predict there will be more fan/community backlash to Hollywood’s seemingly increasing arbitrary decisions to their franchises. Instead of more control, it might be better in the long run to relinquish the tight grip on their franchises and bring in fans (especially fan-based experts) to help craft the stories and shape the ultimate direction of the narratives. Otherwise, like Princess Leia predicted to Grand Moff Tarkin: “The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”

P. S. Alien 3 and Me

And lest I be called a Rian Johnson hater (as I am pretty harsh about him in this entry), I’ve already had my moment with “fandom” with the release of Alien 3 and that is when I learned how horribly wrong a sci-fi movie can go in the hands of an “avant garde” director. Alien and Aliens were my favorite films outside of the SW universe and I was ecstatic when A3 was announced. I went to a showing at U.T. Knoxville, where I was a sophomore at the time. Words cannot express my disappointment in the film. As there was no internet at the time (not in the way there is now–AOL was just beginning to be a thing . . . I think, but it may have been a couple of years before even that if I remember correctly), there was no “fan outrage” that happened. However, I never saw another David Fincher film (I made sure to note the director of that travesty) and after the lukewarm Alien Ressurection, I’ve basically sworn off the Aliens franchise until the reviews indicate that they (the filmmakers) truly intend to make good movies again (so, no I’ve not seen Prometheus, nor Alien Covenant, nor the AvP films, nor do I intend to). So you see, I don’t hate on directors or franchises when they disappoint–I just deny them my business. That’s why Leia’s quote is so appropriate–a closed system means that you (the filmmakers) have no margin for error, so the director/writer/producer had better love the franchise as much as the fans because, like The Last Jedi (and Alien 3) shows, it is painfully obvious when they don’t.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
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    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Why I Play Video Games


So, every Friday one my favorite YouTube channels puts out a list video in which they create a list based on video game related topics. As I have a preference for PlayStation, this is right up my alley and is “destination TV” for me after a long week. The channel is called (of course) Playstation Access and a couple of weeks ago, one of the presenters, Rob, listed 7 reason why he liked playing games.

While reasons #1 (escapism and “becoming” the character interactively), #4 (new narrative structures–as the director and writer of your own individual journey) and #7 (keeping the inner child alive) are particular ones that speak to me. However, I wanted to just briefly articulate a couple of the more important reasons why I play games personally.

The Story

So, with Grim Dark narratives like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, and Breaking Bad, it is so very hard to find really good shows that aren’t characters just “crapping” on one another for the prurient interests of the viewer. Shows like this, to me, are anathema and are just like people jamming the interstate to look at the horrific crash that has occurred. Video games allow me to actually engage with stories and characters that I truly enjoy. The “hero” hasn’t gone, but rather morphed into the video game protagonist. Yeah, sure, there are games that are more akin to those hated shows above, (the Bioshock games come quickly to mind), but generally speaking, most games task you with being, if not the hero, then a protagonist that you can identify with and (usually) enjoy playing: Ryder and Commander Shepherd from the Mass Effect series comes quickly to mind here. It seems as if the protagonist “hero” has pretty much come into his or her own here.

Worldbuilding

An interesting corollary to the story (or narrative) is the focus on setting and world building in video games. Sure, the visuals are nice, but the best games have “atmosphere.” Due to the interactive nature of games, it is very easy to “fall in” to the world (much like the way description works in books). It is really nice to be able to play characters who you like and identify with in worlds that seem real and lived in.

Sidney


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  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
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    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
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    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

Mini-Movie Review: Se7en (Seven)

Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt as detectives stare out at the viewer.
Image Source: https://theamericanmag.com/se7ven/

So, I watched this movie before my preliminary exam, so this mini-movie review might a bit vague as I try to remember what I was feeling about the movie. Did I like it? This is a complicated question (for a complicated movie). This will be a shorter entry, but I’ll try to put my feelings about the movie into words (& hopefully those words make sense).

Seven Deadly Sins

So, as I’m sure I’m going to be told, the concept of a serial killer enacting the the Seven Deadly Sins was probably unique at the time, but I found it a bit trite. Now, again, I must remind readers that I am interested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy and had little interest and patience for movies outside of those two genres. However, with TV series like Law and Order, NCIS, and a myriad of television shows on stations like Crime TV have probably blunted the shock value that the movie might have had on me.

Good Characters, But They Don’t Always Do Smart Things

Without getting into spoilers, the resolution of the movie is set up because the characters, while smart and determined, don’t always do the smartest things. I guessed the ending (partially) about 20 minutes before it happened. While I wasn’t able to guess one of the character’s reactions, I did guess the lead-up to his final choice in the movie. The characters, however, are more realistic in that they have real desires and goals outside of the main plot. This, I’m finding, is crucial to helping characters seem real. They need to have goals and interests that have nothing to do with the main plot–and these characters do have them. What I didn’t like, especially with Brad Pitt’s performance, was the “twitchiness” of his character. Much like his character in 12 Monkeys, Pitt jerks and twitches quite frequently (but not as much as the 12 Monkeys character), and I (personally) found it distracting.

Nihilistic Storytelling

It also has a nihilism that I find quite annoying. Sometimes the world seems to mirror the emotions/actions going on in the story. Rain seems to come down at times to help aid the depressing air of the story. While not Grimdark, but it still isn’t a “pleasant” movie to watch. There is a grit and grunge to the world that accentuates the gruesome atrocities of the serial killer.

Overall Rating: B-

While I recognize the significance of the film in terms of cinematic quality, I found it a bit tedious (and as I said above, a bit trite). Looking at it with 2019 eyes, it seemed to be trying to make a statement that has been made over and over: life sucks and people can be cruel and perpetuate that cruelty. No matter how critically acclaimed those films are in culture or cinematic history, it doesn’t make me like the film any more. I can appreciate it, but I think that, for me, films that are full of nihilism simply turn me off, no matter how well they are made or present their ideas.

Sidney


Please consider supporting these fine small press publishers where my work has appeared:




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    3rd Draft of 3 Drafts 
    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = January 31, 2020
  • I, Mage (Fantasy Short Story)
    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
    Pre-Writing on Rough Draft & Character Sketch
    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
  • Current Longer Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
    Personal Deadline = December 30, 2019

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