Weird West Story Project Arizona = Unhallowed

Female Gunslinger in wide-brimmed hat and long flowing duster with a gun in a holster and knives on her belt looking out towards the audience with a orange sky and yellow sun at her back.
Image Source: https://www.wattpad.com/296700758-fantasy-sub-genre-guide-weird-west

On Monday, June 29th, I finished the first draft of Project Arizona. I’m sure it needs a lot of work, but I like the way it turned out (except for the end, but I’ll talk more about that later in the post). It’s official title is Unhallowed, and it is a Weird West story (a fantasy story with magic and the like mixed with tropes from the Old West — American West). The main character’s name is Arizona and she is an African American woman who becomes a “gunslinger” (one who is Hallowed) in the parlance of the world to fight the evil of the Unhallowed.

Why This Story and Why Now?

Much of the theme around this story has to do with the idea of Justice vs Vengeance. Justice means literally means “just behavior or treatment” and/or the “impartial adjudication of laws” (google it to fact-check me). Vengeance means “punishment inflicted or retribution exacted for an injury or wrong” (again, fact-check me). As we have visual evidence from the past two months (May and June 2020), the American Justice System says that it stands for justice, but what many people involved with it actually try to dispense is vengeance. Now, people may see this as political, but I recognized this much earlier based on the way in which America has conducted its wars in the 20th and 21st centuries (remember, I minored in History). I noticed a discrepancy in which the way America articulates its values and the ways those values actually get realized when we go to war–in my mind, they are two different things, and I wrote this story to explore that idea. The fact that there were multiple high profile cases of social injustice as I was writing this story, just galvanized my desire and need to write it. America (and Americans) say one thing, but do another, and to me, that’s a problem that I’ve been seeing for a while now and major failing that we need to solve.

Why a Weird West Story?

Well, let’s not overlook the fact that Weird West stories are cool 🙂

Also, on a more serious note, Weird West stories are enjoying a moment. As noted in an older blog, the Western as a genre is pretty much dead (for now, especially in movies and TV), but with rise in popularity of the Red Dead Redemption video games by Rockstar, the Western is actually seeing a bit of a resurgence. As such, more inventive stories in the Old West/Wild West are seeing a spike in interest. I think there are at least 3 different Wild West/Weird West games in development (and one of them is actually called Weird West). Not to mention there is at least one RPG that is devoted to the setting (Deadlands). I think that if there is a resurgence in popularity for the Old West/Wild West, it will come from the Weird West genre.

Also, Weird West stories don’t always have to involve Fantasy and Magic. They can be Science Fiction stories as well. Cowboys and Aliens was attempt at such a fusion that didn’t quite work–the title, in typical Hollywood misguided fashion gives an indication why. Still, as one can see, the fusion of different genres can, if done right, infuse the Old West/Wild West with some much needed originality in the storytelling and setting (which is what I hope to accomplish with Unhallowed).

What’s Next For Unhallowed?

I’m working on the 1st Draft for another project now. When I finish it, I will return to Unhallowed for the 2nd Draft. I think I did well on the character, but I want to add in more sensory details, more setting, and fix the ending.

The ending was supposed to feature an elaborate fight scene and “will she/won’t she” choice. The fight scene was massively cut down and the choice was effectively taken from the main character by a discussion in an earlier scene–if she does it, then she loses all support from her team. These are two places that I most definitely need to revisit as they rob the ending of much of the suspense that I envisioned for the end of the story.

Hopefully, during my second pass, I can make the ending as suspenseful as I envisioned it being in my mind’s eye when I had the original idea and wrote out the Rough Draft for the story. But at least it is finished (and done within a month and not the 2+ years that I normally do things, so hurray for small victories!

Have a great day!

Sidney


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Currently Working On (7/2020):

  • “Project Wall” (Science Fiction Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Up Next: 2nd Draft (Working Draft)
  • Childe Roland Graphic Novel 
    Up Next: Rough Draft (Story)

New Pulp Sub-Genre

Four diverse book covers, each showcasing a different type of New Pulp hero: A Detective and fantasy cover are display prominently
Image Source: https://thepulp.net/the-hunt/new-pulp/

I just submitted an entry to a new directory that will be coming out that lists creators (writers, artists, editors, reviews, and publishers) of New Pulp stories. I didn’t really know that I was one until I published in Storyhack, but after researching more into this fairly new sub-genre, I think that many of my stories have, at least at their core, a New Pulp aesthetic that I may try to emphasize more.

So, What is New Pulp?

Great question that–to be honest, I had to do some digging on the web to really figure it out myself. I guess the easiest way to define it would be to give you a definition of “Old” Pulp and then tell how “New” Pulp is different.

Basically, these are the stories from the 1930s – 1950s that you hear so much about. These are sci-fi and adventure stories that cared far more for the flavor and zest of the story than actual realism or verisimilitude. These are the stories in which rocket-ships have fins, aliens live on Mars without vacuum suits, and hidden civilizations hide under the earth or in deep forests. Pulp was no so much interested in the “real world” effects of science, so long as the authors could use their imaginations and create stories that illustrated conflict.

New Pulp are stories that take the same action and adventure element, but which do not necessarily throw away realism or verisimilitude to achieve that adventure aesthetic. These are stories that have the adventure/action element at their core. Essentially, this is the “Action Movie” genre for fiction.

This is What I Like To Read

One of the reasons that I’m not as invested in Sci-Fi and Fantasy (in fiction) as much as I used to be is that the concept of a “hero” has pretty been dumped and the new concept is either “morally ambiguous” (aka “gray” characters) which basically just means the protagonist is either a “badass” that does things for his/her own self-interest (Pitch Black) or “mean people doing mean things to each other (Game of Thrones) or the idea of “literary” sci-fi (which is “character-driven”) which means little-to-no action. It’s all about the dialogue and the internal conflict.

I love characters and characterization, but I love characters doing something meaningful. That’s the type of fiction I like to read and write: characters who are engaged in an action or problem and seeing how that character will succeed or fail based on his/her personality traits or flaws. What happens when you’re an “ace” pilot, but the ship you’re piloting is a piece of junk? How do you survive on an alien world with just an umbrella when it’s raining lava, but you’ve seen Fred Astaire’s Singing in the Rain since you were two years old and know it by heart? New Pulp (or at least what I understand it to be) comes closest to this, and while I won’t always be writing/publishing in the New Pulp sub-genre, I can tell you that the aesthetic will always be there–I want my stories to be fun, adventurous, and exciting, which are (as I understand it) the very hallmarks of the New Pulp sub-genre.

Now, when I write, am I thinking about writing a “New Pulp” story? No, I’m thinking about writing a Science Fiction story or a Fantasy story, but I do so with a lot of action, and knowing about the New Pulp sub-genre gives me more places and opportunities to market my work. Hopefully, there will be fewer rejections than from tradition/literary markets who (by and large) don’t give a flip about the things that I like about the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres, rich characterization AND really cool plot/action.

How Can I Find Out More About New Pulp?

Well here are a couple of websites that can help you out:

https://thepulp.net/the-hunt/new-pulp/

https://www.writermag.com/get-published/the-publishing-industry/pulp-fiction/

Also, here is a good publisher of Pulp/New Pulp (and full disclosure: the place where I sent my entry to be included in a directory of New Pulp creators that I mentioned in my introduction.)

Airship 27: http://www.airship27.com/

Well, that’s all I have time for today. Sorry this post is late, but between work and watching the Playstation 5 Reveal event, I’m behind in getting this one out. See you the next blog post.

Sidney


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Currently Working On (6/2020):

  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing: Revision 1
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Drafting: First Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2

Storytelling the Expanse Way

Cast of The Expanse in futuristic space suits against a dark futuristic interior
Image Source: https://www.space.com/the-expanse-season-4-and-5-on-amazon.html

I have to admit this upfront: I originally didn’t like The Expanse. There, I said it. This isn’t news to long-time blog readers as I made no secret about how much I disliked the first season of the show. I “peaced out” after the first episode of the 2nd season. However, last January, when my car died and I was stuck in the apartment for the whole weekend (heh, a pandemic and quarantine gives a whole new meaning to being “stuck”), I watched the entire series of the show in a weekend and I was amazed that I dismissed it so thoroughly as it was really good.

I’ve watched it quite often since, trying to figure out how I could have gotten it so wrong. I think I understand what The Expanse does that makes it so compelling, but why it initially turned me off.

History First

So, I believe that Tolkien would have loved this particular series as well. What the creators of the show (and I assume the book) do very well is focus on the history and then set the characters loose with events. History is paramount to the series and most of the first season sets up the interplay between Mars, Earth, and the Belt. Then (no spoilers), they throw a wrinkle in the midst and then go from there. Tolkien was a huge advocate for setting up the history of a place–that’s why Middle Earth feels like a lived in world. As I’m reading The Lord of the Rings again, I notice how Tolkien is discussing people, events, and places that aren’t really relevant to the story at hand, but give much more context for what is happening and why it is happening.

Mystery Second

The second thing that the creators do is that they present story arcs in the form of mini-mysteries. Yes, that’s right, much of the “binge-watchability” (like the new formation of the word I created there?) of the show comes from the fact that they show you (Colombo-style) what happens at the end of the arc in the very beginning of the arc and then slowly the narrative unfolds until you have all the pieces. Once you reach the end, you see how that piece that they gave you at the very beginning then fits into the larger story. Colombo did this very well, but it gave away the entire ending as you knew who the murderer was and then it was just watching Colombo put together the lies, half-truths, and mistakes of the criminal and watching their ever increasing desperation as the detective got ever closer to the truth. In The Expanse, it is more like a puzzle, in which they give you a “glimpse” of a puzzle filled in and then before you can make complete sense of what you’re seeing, they scatter ALL the pieces and begin reforming the puzzle again. You still have your “clue,” but it isn’t relevant for 4-5 episodes until you have enough of the overall puzzle filled in again to start making connections to what you saw at the beginning.

Warm Up/Cool Down Third

And finally, well not finally, but it is the last one I want to talk about today, they do this interesting technique that I’ve not seen in other long form narrative shows (shows whose episodes follow a story arc and aren’t “episodic” in nature) in that it follows (for the most part) this scenerio: Warm-up episode, 1-3 action focused episodes, Cool down episode. Now, there are exceptions to this, but having watched the series well over 10 times now (and individual episodes to coincide with various reactors–I’m following 5 Expanse reactors at the moment), there is a pattern that you can see developing in those episodes. The Warm-up episode usually establishes some strange situation or occurrence or sets up a problem that needs to be solved/resolved. The Action episodes are usually ones that are “cooking” episodes where the action is happening and everything comes to a “boiling point” (which is usually some unexpected revelation–either plot or character, rarely both at the same time, but it has happened). The Cool-down episode is usually character focused and spends time relating how the characters have been changed or how they are relating to the new status quo.

The cycle usually repeats (although in Seasons 1 & 4, this is elongated and it makes it seem slow at times.) Season 2 and 3 are so hyper-focused on this pattern that it makes the show so intense.

To Watch The Expanse You Have to Embrace the Mystery

Although The Expanse is a science fiction show that features combat, space ship scenes, and a realistic depiction of a science fiction world, one must embrace the mystery genre in order to truly appreciate it. It isn’t so much a “puzzlebox” that is the hot buzzword term in the film industry right now as it is a throwback to a genre that has fallen out of favor. This show leans heavily on the mystery of what has happened/is happening in order to drive its narrative. By showing you a piece of the “endgame” and then going back and filling in those pieces one plot point and character moment at a time, it is inviting you to help construct the narrative along with it and entices you to come along with it to “enjoy the ride.”

Sidney


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




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft (Idea phase)
    Next: First Draft (Plot phase)

Mini-Movie Review: Extraction (Netflix)

A picture of a bearded Chris Hemsworth in military gear looking to the right off-screen against a yellowish background of an Indian cityscape with the words" Netflix Extraction Official Trailer"
Image Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6P3nI6VnlY

This past weekend I watched a movie produced by Netflix. While not my first Netflix movie, I generally pass them up in favor of seeing “studio” produced movies as I’m trying to catch up on movies that I’ve missed theatrically. As an individual, I’ve seen a lot of movies; however, as a film student, I feel that I don’t have the same repertoire as some of my colleagues (one of my friends at school who is also a film student and working on his dissertation watches a movie a day on his phone! I sometimes struggle to keep up with the movie a week paradigm that I’ve set for myself.) This movie was written by Joe Russo (Avengers Infinity War/Endgame) and stars Chris Hemsworth (Thor & Avengers movies). So, did I like it–yes, I did, for the most part.

“The Protector”

This story is very much in the style of films made famous by Keanu Reeves in the John Wick movies. However, there is a difference, story-wise. While those are about “revenge” in some way, this film owes much more to films like Liam Neesom’s Taken movies (which I’ve not seen) and the BMW short film The Escape (which I have seen) in that there is more an element of protection than revenge. While different in tone, the plot actually functions a lot like other movies in the action genre–I’m specifically thinking of 16 Blocks, Special Forces, and Mile 22 (all of which I’ve seen–see, I do have a pretty good film knowledge base to draw on 😉 for my analysis). Chris Hemsworth’s character is tasked with “extracting” a target from a rival faction. I won’t go into the specific plot elements–but suffice to say, if you’ve seen any of those movies, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of the story progression. While not always the most original of ideas or execution, it was still an enjoyable and had enough novel elements to set it above many others in its genre.

“Gun-Fu”

Your enjoyment of the movie will depend largely on your tolerance for “gun-fu,” which is the combination of gun-play, martial arts, and ultra close-in gun-play in which the shooting all happens at extremely close ranges–sometimes right up in a character’s face (literally). This type of fighting and choreagraphy was made famous by John Wick. If you hate that style of action/combat, then chances are good you’re going to hate this movie.

There are also other set pieces in here besides the Gun-Fu that are really well done. There is a car chase scene that is really complex and visually interesting (check out the camera placement during the chase). This scene is NOT shot like traditional Hollywood action set-pieces and (for me) that really made it come alive. Is it the BEST chase scene I’ve ever seen? No, some of the Bourne/Bond movies hold that distinction, but check out the way this movie is shot vs those and you’ll immediately see a difference. Also, the ending sequence has to be mentioned–tense and climatic, I really think it rivals some of the best moments of other “protector” like films referenced above.

What I Didn’t Like

Okay, this isn’t a perfect movie. The story, some are going to argue, is fairly predictable. While you can’t see all of the “turns” coming, you can probably spot most of them.

Going beyond the story though, the sound mixing on this one was rough. The dialogue, in some parts was mixed too low to hear without me having to turn up my system, but then when the action got going, I would have to turn down the system as the gunshots rang out to loud and I didn’t want to disturb the neighbors. I personally couldn’t find a perfect setting–the dialogue always seemed too low and the action always seemed too loud.

Lastly, there’s a lot of violence happening in this story. I know its “Gun-Fu,” but the amount of people being shot in the head, especially, is high. People lose digits, are stabbed in multiple places/ways, and in one case, I kid (ostensibly a drug runner) is thrown off a roof. If violence makes you squeamish at all, this movie may not be for you. Most of it is justified by the story, but you can tell there was a little one upmanship happening here with other films in the genre.

Overall Grade: B

While definitely not a novel story or characterization, there were enough new elements (stunts and set-pieces) and enough articulation of the overall theme, that I didn’t find it tedious or a retread of something I’d already seen. Also, while the violence was a bit over-the-top for me and took me out of the story sometimes, I thought that the actual “action” of the story delivered for me what I was looking for in an action movie. It was fun, but had a heart, and wasn’t a pessimistic, dark, gritty drama that so many films in the genre try to be.

Sidney


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




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
    Editing Draft
  • Ship of Shadows Graphic Novel 
    Finished: Script, Issue #1
    Next: Script, Issue #2
  • “Project Arizona” (Weird Western Story)
    Finished: Rough Draft
    Next: First Draft

Mini-Review: Alita: Battle Angel

Picture of a Cyborg girl with human head and metallic body and arms holding a metallic sword staring out at the viewer.
Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0437086/

So, I started this awhile back, but I’m just now getting a chance to write this post in full. Still, I wanted to get my thoughts down about this movie as it was one that I really wanted to watch and finally got it for Christmas. I thought it was a good movie–there are some concerns about it that I think kinda’ bring it down a bit, but I think that it was a fun movie. Oh, I should note that I know of the source material, Battle Angel Alita, but I’ve never read the associated manga that this movie is based on, so this is just going to focus on the movie.

Great Action

One of the things that I like about this movie is the great action scenes that are in the movie. This isn’t an “explosion”-heavy movie (so my mother probably wouldn’t care for it), but there is quite a bit of martial arts inspired action. Quite a bit of it is inventive in terms of manipulating Alita’s cyborg body in unique and fun ways while in combat, but as martial arts fan, I like the emphasis on combat and action. I also like the juxtaposition of Alita (in her “normal” girl cyborg body) able to take on the many “rogues” gallery of cyborgs in the movie (you see a couple of them in he trailer).

Exposition Through Dialogue

So, there are a couple of problems. I guess because I’m so busy trying to be conscious of characterization, I noticed this problem where I normally wouldn’t have–but in this case, the movie does do a lot of this. Now, this is fairly standard, especially since Alita is a newcomer to the world, so we learn about the world through her eyes and through characters explaining things to her, but in doing so, there is quite a bit of exposition about how the world works given in the dialogue and it feels a bit clunky.

Ambivalence

I am a bit ambivalent about this movie. Much of this ambivalence comes from fact that it is basically a “Disney Princess movie with Battle Armor.” Surprisingly, it has quite a few Disney-like motifs, especially for the idea “romance.” Actually, romance is too narrow. Alita does do everything for the “boy” she’s interested in and she falls in love with the 1st boy she meets (again, Disney tropes for Disney Princesses). However, she also needs her father, especially at the beginning of the story. There is even an “evil stepmother” role. There’s probably more, but I stopped there once I saw the parallels between this movie and the Disney “formula.”

Grade: B

So I liked this quite a bit, despite its flaws. I can forgive a lot of things as long as the movie isn’t pretentious and has enough action (explosions or martial arts) and really tries to nail the story, even if there are elements that don’t quite hit as much as I might like them to. Good movie–if there ever is a sequel, I’d love for Alita be able to stand on her own as a character and not have to depend on males in the same Disney tropes that have been a part of movies since Snow White.

Sidney


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  • Project Arizona (Fantasy Short Story–Weird West))
    Finished: Story Outline
    Next: Character Sketch
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    Mythic Mag. Deadline = July 31, 2020
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Unlocked: Mini-Movie Review

So its been a while since I’ve written a blog, but I’ve still been progressing on many fronts. A couple of weeks of go I was in the mood for a spy action film. I’d seen this trailer, but I didn’t actually go to see Unlocked. When I saw that it was on streaming, I immediately put it on my list to see. I watched it a couple of weekends ago and thought that it was good. Not horrible and not great, but good.

The Action is What Makes This Movie

So, it is the action and action sequences that really make this movie. I really like the action sequences (reminiscent of the Bodyguard BBC TV show that I didn’t really care for except for the action sequences). There’s a lot of hand-to-hand combat, gunplay, and spycraft that makes up this movie. Even in the action sequences, one can still see the characters and the interplay between the characters and that is also very good.

The Script Really Lets the Movie Down

So, it is the script that really hampers the movie, particularly the plot. Good characters and good action, weighed down by seeming reversals that can be seen a mile away. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the events play out EXACTLY as one expects they will. This is one of those times where film critics (which I have a love/hate relationship with) are right: being derivative really hurt this film. The film makes (or wants to make) a statement about terrorism and peace and warmonger/warprofiteering, but wants to have everything fall into place in such a way as to “hide” the identity of the ultimate bad guy, but (slight spoiler here, so skip two paragraphs if you don’t want ANY spoilers):

. . . if you’ve seen The Fugitive, then you know exactly what’s going to happen. Same essential structure. And that’s just for starters. I can’t recall their names, but I can think of two more movies (oh, just remembered one: Broken Arrow) that do much the same as this one does.

Overall Rating: B

So this is probably overly generous (it should probably be a B-/C+), but I found the lead character played by Noomi Rapace and the male character played by Orlando Bloom to be a strong presence. I also liked many of the other actors (& their characters) in the movie and thought that the set-up to the movie was the strongest I’d seen in a while and with the action it seemed poised to be a good one, but ultimately, the derivative script let it down and I didn’t like the last 2/3rds of the movie nearly as much as I did the first 1/3rd.

Anyway, I hope that everyone’s week is an awesome one!

Sidney


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




  • The Independent  (Sci-Fi Short-Story)–
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    Drafting Section 2 (of 3)
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    Pre-Production Phase (Planning)
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    (Sci-Fi) Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32
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Hunter-Killer: Mini Movie Review

Submarine broaching the ice with Captain and Defense Secretary (US) in the background with (movie) explosions all around.
Image Source: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1846589/mediaindex

In my quest to see a movie every weekend of the year, I watched a movie that got a really poor Rotten Tomato score, but it was an action movie that Apple was renting for .99 and it was one that I had a moderate amount of interest about seeing, so I went ahead and took a chance on it. The movie was called Hunter-Killer and is about a “rookie” US submarine captain who is ordered to investigate the disappearance of another US sub. From there, political and military intrigue ensues — making it necessary to use a combination of stealth and force to save the day. I put “rookie” submarine captain in quotes becaude even though this is technically the captain’s first command, he is a career Navy-man and his knowledge of sea-craft and war-craft is preternaturally good, so much so that it almost strains credibility at times.

36%? It’s Better Than That!

So, understanding that reviews are subjective, this movie is better than its 36% (at time of writing this blog post) on Rotten Tomatoes suggests. The (current) Audience score of 71% would bear out my argument. Is this a phenomenal movie? No, it isn’t. There are places in the movie that strain credibility. The captain of the US boat is prescient to a fault. The performances of some of the “Russian” characters veer into caricatures (and we won’t even talk about their accents), and there aren’t enough female characters–maybe this reflects real life American subs, but the movie ignores reality when it wants to, so why not here as well. However, even with these faults, the movie does action pretty well and submarine-based tension very well. It gives us a fair amount of action the entire way through. Without spoilers, the screenwriter gives us both submarine action and ground-based combat (in about a 50/50 ratio), so it isn’t the true submarine drama that the title makes it out to be, but that is okay. It tries (but doesn’t always succeed) to be a “love letter” to the crews on submarines while still retaining its Action Movie heritage. However, there are TV shows with submarines (I’m thinking of Sub-Rosa–I think?–from NCIS–the one with Kate and Gibbs on the submarine) that do it better–even with a lesser budget.

The Not-So-Perfect Movie with the Perfect Title

I think that the movie’s title does a lot to hurt it. Hunter-Killer implies a sub-hunt movie with sub’s hunting subs and a game of underwater, tactical chess, and that’s just not what this movie is at its heart. It wants to do submarine combat, but it also wants to be a tactical squad based action drama like Special Forces & Lone Survivor. I feel that if you like those movies along with The Hunt for Red October (which I did), then your enjoyment of the movie will be much higher.

Overall Rating: C+

I would have given this, in grading terms, a 78 or 79. It tries earnestly and (in terms of enjoyment) it mostly succeeds. If not for some troublesome elements all the way through: prescient captain, annoying first officer, caricature of the Russians, too few (& underdeveloped) female roles, and a title that implies the movie would be different from what it actually turned out to be, I thought that the movie still delivered enough action, thrills, and tension to be an enjoyable experience.

Bumblebee Mini-Review

Movie Poster with BumbleBee and two lead characters beside the Golden Gate Bridge.

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I saw the Transformers Prequel movie, Bumblebee, and thought I’d take a moment to write up my thoughts about it. I thought that it was a pretty fun movie, although I thought that it was a little small in its scope. I’ll try to keep this review spoiler free (although I might need to discuss certain elements to talk about in regards to other Transformers movies) so I can’t promise that this will be completely spoiler-free (I’ll try my best).

Not Sprawling, But Still Good

One of the things that I liked about the movie was that it was a more contained movie. While I liked the Transformers movies, the first one specifically, I found that the later movies were just a little too long and didn’t have the same narrative coherence as the earlier movies (especially the first one). In other words, the other movies had become bloated and a bit of a mess, while Bumblebee was much more of a conventional movie with a 3 Act structure. I think that this added in my enjoyment of the movie immensely as I felt that it allowed the characters to shine, especially in regards to their motivations–something that I think was lacking in other Transformers movies.

Not Quite Enough Action

So, if there’s one thing that I could fault the movie for, then it would be the fact that while there’s action in the movie, it doesn’t really have the level of action that I would like. While an action movie, some of the elements are very much cut down or minimized. The writers, while looking for characterization and humor, downplay the action of the piece and (for me) that really made it not as fun as it could have been.

For instance, the scene in which she is goaded into diving, but ultimate decides to not do it, while revealing character, is something that doesn’t really work for me–I think it could have been revealed in a different way.

Overall Grade: B-/C+

I liked the increased focus on characterization, but not at the expense of the action of the Transformers’ movies. While more intimate and character-focused, it also lost a lot of the grandeur of the original film. This is why I think I was always so resistant to focusing on character–too much on character and not enough on the plot can leave a movie (or story) that should feel “epic” as feeling underwhelming rather than truly epic.

Sidney

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  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft — Character Draft “Finished”)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

HawkeMoon Acceptance!

Falconry--falcon landing man's gloved hand.
Image Source: https://www.usatoday.com/videos/travel/2018/11/12/celebrate-world-falconry-day-historic-hotel/1977581002/

So, sometime ago, I wrote an Author’s Note that covered the genesis of my short story, HawkeMoon. While I thought it was an awesome story, I despaired of every getting published as it is an action story. And it features an ending that is not the typical “GrimDark” fare that you see these days in Fantasy based on the successful of Game of Thrones (and its many imitators). Well, after 21 tries, #22 turned out to be the right market! HawkeMoon was accepted for publication by StoryHack Action and Adventure! While I’m not sure what issue it will be in yet, you can be sure that I’ll be keeping readers know when it is available.

Action and Adventure

So, this market is exactly the type of market that I wish there were more of in the Fantasy and Science Fiction field. Most of the markets are more for “social” sci-fi where they look at a trend and extrapolate on that trend for near future/far future and then that becomes the author’s world. Fantasy is a lot more fluid, but thanks to George R. R. Martin’s success with his “GrimDark” Game of Thrones series, it is very hard to interest editors of markets to get behind anything that is not “GrimDark,” or has elements of that sub-genre in work. I make no bones about despising the “GrimDark” sub-genre, hence my despair at finding a publisher for HawkeMoon.

One of the things that I like about this market–in addition to the awesome system of keep authors in the loop about the submission process–is that the editor understands that “action” and “adventure” are not dirty words, but are elements that are integral to the story. Yes, characterization is the most important (see, I’m learning), but just because characters don’t have “bad things” happen to them and then they turn around and do “bad things” to others (take a guess to which Fantasy series I’m referring to), doesn’t make the story nonpunishable. Action/Adventure, when used appropriately, can heighten the suspense for the reader and make the character “change” by putting him or her under extraordinary circumstances from which they must escape. So, they don’t “change” via a soliloquy or deep intense reflection–that’s okay. They still change–whether its deciding to kill (or not kill) that Troll guarding the bridge, or whether or not to pull the trigger on those starfighter controls that will, in effect, kill his mother and yet, all the girls go gushy over because of his long black and emo personality (guess which popular space opera movie I’m referring to here), still these are choices that the character makes and these choices define the character (for good or ill) and are just as appropriate as deep navel gazing (reflection) or long dramatic speeches (soliloquy) in defining the character.

Celebration

So, I haven’t decided what to do quite yet to celebrate HawkeMoon’s acceptance. My birthday’s coming up soon, so I may just roll the celebration into my birthday and call it a day. At the very least, getting an Acceptance for HawkeMoon is an awesome birthday present!

Sidney




  • Current Work-in-Progress–February 2019: Project Dog  (Sci-Fi Short-Story – 1st Draft)
  • Current Work-in-Progress: Ship of Shadows (Sci-Fi Graphic Novel – Script, Issue # 2, Currently on Script Page 32)

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