Jupiter Ascending

I’ve been looking forward to this since seeing the first trailers. Not necessarily because I thought it was going to be an amazing movie. Not even because the Wachowski’s. I wanted to see it because it was an original science fiction / fantasy movie made at a time when movies have been dominated by sequels, remakes, and films based on books. It’s an original story, which we so rarely see in the theaters.

That said… saying it’s original is a little bit of a stretch. Instead, it feels like the Wachowski’s have watched all the anime, read all the sci-fi/fantasy books, and seen all the movies that I have over the last five years, and they threw everything into a single movie. The story in this movie feels too big for the run time. It’s all over the place, introducing ideas and then abandoning them. Much of the secondary cast is only in the movie for short scene or two and then disappears. There’s so much going on, that 90% of Mila Kunis’ scenes are spent with her being explained what has just happened.

It’s not good writing, the action scenes are nothing new or amazing. I still enjoyed it though. It’s a middle of the road space opera that deserves to be watched just so Hollywood gets the idea that THIS is the kind of thing they need to be doing.

Make NEW stuff, please!

Horns

I recently watched the movie for Horns on Netflix. I had wanted to see it in the theaters, but nobody was showing it in the entire Dallas area. I have no idea what’s up with that. Anyways, I had read the book back in July and I thought the movie looked pretty good. Here’s my thoughts on both the book and the movie.

The book – I loved it. I read it in a couple days in South Padre on vacation last summer. It’s the first novel by Joe Hill I have read (and still the only one), but I loved Locke & Key as well. The story here is great and Joe Hill writes it in a way that keeps suspense high, while also including horror and dark humor. It’s great.

The movie – Most of the complaints I heard about this movie were “Daniel Radcliffe’s accent was horrible.” Please, his accent was fine. What was horrible was the script by Keith Bunin and direction by Alexandre Aja. I try not to be one of those people who is like “The book was so much better,” or “the book did this differently,” but come on – when you have a good story right there that readers have already loved, why does a screenwriter feel the need to change SO much of it? There was no need for the changes that took place in the movie and every change made it worse.

That said… the movie was okay. I think the only reason I liked it at all was because I read the book first, which is weird. My girlfriend said it was an awful movie, but I attempted to defend it by saying, “Well here is what the book was going for…”

It’s not a movie that I can really recommend. Read the book instead.

Read-a-long: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (Chapter 2)

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WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD

When the biologist wakes up at the beginning of the chapter, the anthropologist has disappeared during the night. The psychologist says that she returned to the border to leave Area X.

The rest of the crew head back towards the tower, where the psychologist says that she will stay above and uses hypnosis to make the surveyor agree. The biologist and the surveyor head down alone. This is the best part of the chapter. The tension as the surveyor and the biologist traverse the unknown is great. There’s suspense as to what they will see next, and there’s tension developing between the two of them as well, as the surveyor does not trust the biologist.

In the tunnel, they find the corpse of the anthropologist along with some signs that there is a slug-like creature writing on the walls down the tunnel below. The biologist comes to the conclusion that the psychologist hypnotized the anthropologist into coming down here and taking a sample of this creature, getting her killed. The surveyor doesn’t go along with this hypothesis at first, but slowly comes to agree with the biologist a bit more.

We also get some flash backs here of the biologist with her husband. He was part of a previous expedition and returned home a changed person. Like all his personality was gone. He died from cancer, like all those who have returned.

When the biologist and the surveyor return to the surface, the psychologist has disappeared, along with most of their supplies and weaponry. During the night, there is a storm, and the biologist sees the light from a lighthouse in the distance.

The next day, the biologist wants to go to the lighthouse, but the surveyor doesn’t. They have an argument, so the biologist leaves on her own.

Much of this chapter was backstory that really didn’t seem to matter all that much. It was interesting, but also felt like it dragged the story down a bit. I’m assuming it will come into play later, but for now I just wanted to see more of this tower and whatever creepy creature is occupying it. Everything that happened in the tower was very well done and gave me the heeby jeebies.

Read-a-long: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (Chapter 1)

I just started reading Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, as it is the pick of the month for the Sword and LaserĀ Goodreads group that I have been a part of (but not an always active participator) for years. I didn’t even recognize the author’s name when I started reading, but he’s the same person who wrote Wonderbook, which is a book about how to write imaginative fiction that I have been reading a few pages of every night for some time.

My Read-a-long’s are going to be filled with spoilers for the specific chapters I read, so feel free to read with me and comment. That’s what their meant for after all, but please do not spoil anything further in the story.

Chapter 1 introduces us to our four main characters, who are all female, all unnamed and only referred to by their professions. There is our POV character, the biologist. The surveyor who is a bit bad-tempered but easy to relate to. The anthropologist, who is a bit fearful and weak-minded. Lastly, the psychologist, who is older than the others and is the leader of the group. It also seems that she may have some secret that the others don’t know about. Her job seems to be to keep the others from going crazy in this trip.

The trip is to a place called Area X, which for some reason has been quarantined from the rest of the world. There is some sort of barrier between this area and the rest of the world and scouting teams are sent in regularly to research. They are all instructed to keep journals to record their thoughts and findings, but not to share those journals with each other as to avoid bias.

During this trip, they find a tower sunken down into the ground. Inside, there is some strange writing written in some sort of moss on the walls. Our POV character, the biologist, examines this writing and spores are released into her face. The others do not see this infection, and the biologist does not tell them. They decide to explore the rest of the tower later, when they have breathing masks.

Later, the biologist discovers that the spores have made her immune to the hypnotic suggestions of the psychologist, but she pretends to go along with it when the psychologist hypnotizes them that night in order to keep them calm.

Throughout the journey thus far, each of them have been feeling an unease that remains unexplainable. Like them, we don’t know what is happening in this place, but we know that previous expeditions have ended badly.

So far, I’m liking the story a lot. VanderMeer’s writing is filled with a foreboding tone that makes everything feel unsettling. It feels like a mix between the TV show Lost and H.P. Lovecraft. I’m looking forward to reading more later.

I’m back!

So I am horrible about keeping a blog going. This is a fact.

That said, I’m a little more inspired than normal to get this blog going. I PROMISE I’ll be updating more frequently now. At least once a week. I’m trying to connect with other bloggers (who write about books) and get a little more attention for my newly published book, White Mountain.

I’ll be working on getting this page up to standards and keeping it updated more in the future.

I’ve also been hard at work on a new book that I’m super excited about. I’ve tentatively titled it Tutela. It’s a YA space opera full of action and adventure and romance. It’s been in my head for a long time, and I’m so excited to finally begin forming it on paper.

Thanks for reading, and be sure you follow to receive updates in the future.