Friday, March 16, 2018

It took three years for Spielberg's team to just get the licensing together for all the properties contained within Ready Player One.

Spielberg spent three years JUST getting all the licenses together to even be allowed to make Ready Player One. And he didn't get all of them. I learned from io9's post yesterday that he couldn't get Ultraman and Star Wars. Think about that...with all of his connections, he still couldn't get all of the licenses that he wanted to get. That just blows my mind. I never would have thought that Ernest Clines "ode to the eighties" would have been a difficult film to create, but it goes down as one of the more difficult ones in history if you measure the amount of red tape one has to cut through to even start filming.

Also, I got challenged by the hive mind of a group I message with the other day that was saying that some early reviewers at SXSW panned Spielberg's Ready Player One adaptation. If you've heard this but don't know why, I want to set you straight. There was a technical glitch in which the sound dropped for a full minute during the Ready Player One showing. A lot of people in the crowd thought this was intentional, and gave the movie terrible reviews because of it. If you remove those reviews out of the equation, it is getting a stellar reception. And some are even saying it is better than the book.

Honestly, when I think about this movie adaptation it doesn't surprise me one bit that the movie will be better than the book. The novel was crammed with nostalgia, but it was heavily reliant on references that (should you be without) are almost impossible to picture because you don't know what they look like. For me, it was an incredible book because I know what the Tomb of Horrors has in it because I've run that D&D module countless times. And I know what a Delorean looks like because I loved Back to the Future. And so on and so forth. People who don't have all that information downloaded into their brain tend to hate Ready Player One (the book). I have no doubt that it will translate much better to them on screen because everything will be right there for them to see.

Here's the latest trailer. I'm so excited for this.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Close Encounters of the Third Kind would be an impossible movie to make in modern day America.

I recently purchased my tickets for Ready Player One and Pacific Rim 2. These are two movies that I'm excited to see, but for very different reasons. I want to see Pacific Rim 2, because I like big monsters and robots, and it looks like the movie went in a very intriguing direction when it was apparent that Charlie Hunnam would not be back to reprise his role as a Jaeger pilot that saved the world. The fact that they are going with Idris Elba's son is (I think) even better than another show with Charlie Hunnam's "hot shot" character in the pilot seat.

As for Ready Player One? Well, I read the book and reviewed it in a blog post three years ago. If you want to read the review, it's posted HERE. However, the biggest reason I'm looking forward to it is to see if Steven Spielberg (who got back into the director's chair from his semi-retirement) still has the magic. I've said it before HERE, but I think Steven is the G.O.A.T. And I've been educating some teenagers by showing them Spielberg movies at my house about once a month (the teens in question are named David and Moira, which is really nerdy considering that these names are both X-Men characters). Yes, the mom is a huge nerd.

Anyway, the next movie I have scheduled to show these two teens is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It's a movie that I really liked as I was growing up. However, in thinking about the film, I suddenly realized that this is not a movie that could be filmed today. To clarify, I'm saying it would be impossible to put to film in today's climate.

For one, it glamorizes a deadbeat dad. Richard Dreyfuss is clearly disenchanted with his own family because they don't want to participate in his alien-driven mania. Does he love his kids? Maybe on some level? But he's not even done with his marriage before he's making moves on a woman who shares his mania for the location of Devil's Tower, and who has lost her son to an alien abduction. Sure, the story offers convenient excuses for Dreyfuss's behavior, but there's no way that wouldn't all get panned to death by reviewers and (I think) there is no way it could even get greenlit today for any kind of budget (whether or not someone like Steven Spielberg was behind it).

Close Encounters also has stellar reviews. However, there's no way people would review the movie the same in today's climate. It would get so many one star reviews it'd make the director's head spin as people trashed it and created negative hashtags on social media for a movie that clearly glorifies all the awful stereotypes of deadbeat dads.

I suppose that what I'm saying is that Close Encounters is an anachronism. It's a masterpiece for the time and place in which it appeared, but to remove it from that period would be to destroy it utterly because the things that made it great would be overwhelmed by its underlying social message. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

Thank you Dave Filoni for a wonderful series finale of Star Wars Rebels because it made me excited about the future of Star Wars again.

The final episode that there will ever be of Star Wars: Rebels created such a "David Filoni" inspired universe of potential that I'm actually excited for the future of the franchise. Knowing now what Disney executives must have known a year or more ago when all of this was being discussed, I can see why episode 8, a.k.a. The Last Jedi, was made. So if you want to hear the ideas that bubbled into my head, please know that there are going to be spoilers from here on out as I discuss the Star Wars: Rebels revelations and what they may mean for the Star Wars universe at large.

So...I get it now. All of the old cast needed to be buried so that new stories could be created with young characters who are alive and well at the end of Star Wars: Rebels. The universe may have lost its last Jedi, but "Jedi" was just a title. It was a name given for people trained in the use of the Force that also had membership within an organization. But even Shakespeare in a universe not so far far away realized that a rose by any other name smelled just as sweet.

Surviving the end of Rebels, which had its curtain call beyond the events of Return of the Jedi are pretty much everyone. The universe has Ezra Bridger doing who knows what (the guy sailed off into hyperspace riding space whales and towing Grand Admiral Thrawn's Star Destroyer along with Grand Admiral Thrawn as his prisoner). Those stories have yet to be created. The galaxy also has Ahsoka Tano, who has incredible training, and who could potentially train Rey, who (in my opinion) is wielding power the equal of Yoda. I mean...all those rocks at the end of the Last Jedi were easily as heavy and massive as an X-Wing, and she didn't look all that strained to be throwing them around.

So what can we expect then in Episode 9 and beyond? I personally think that we're looking at Ezra Bridger and Ahsoka Tano getting cast as live action stars. I think we're going to see the fate of Grand Admiral Thrawn, and somehow he is going to be connected to the remnants of the First Order. And I think we're looking at new force powers that will resemble magic more than they do science fiction. Most people know (by now) that Jedi's were based on fantasy wizards anyway.

I'm hoping that my friend, Kevin Long, will weigh in somewhere in the comments. He's also a fan of the series and has quite a few insights that I value and that I don't pick out myself in my own viewings of the shows.

But yeah, thanks to Dave Filoni I'm excited for Star Wars again!

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

I think booking a professional massage is the perfect way to celebrate any achievement.

How do you celebrate when you achieve a writing goal/ finish a story?

This is the question that is pondered by the Insecure Writer's Support Group for the March 7th question, and it's a pretty good one. It made me think of a particular scene in the movie, Romancing the Stone:
For those of you that don't know this movie because you are too young to have seen it, the plot is pretty simple (and kinda great):
A single, lonely, romance writer finds herself caught in a wild adventure of her own when her sister calls for her help. She immediately heads to Columbia in search of her sister. Unbeknownst to her, she carries a map to the largest emerald in the world, and there are many people after it. She teams up with Jack, a guy who seems to to have stepped off the cover of one of her books, in hopes to reach Cartagena and her sister.
At the beginning of the movie (where the above gif is taken), she's finishing up a steamy romance and is putting the finishing touches on her story. In tears, she goes about her apartment looking for tissues, doesn't find any, and celebrates anyway by blowing on a note that was intended to remind her to buy more tissues and then some wine and a nice relaxing sit by the fire (if I remember correctly). The next day she drops off the finished manuscript off with her publisher or agent (I'm not sure who it is at this point).'s a great representation of how to celebrate finishing a story even if I've never done it that way.

I honestly haven't finished that many stories, and for me, there really isn't a definitive finishing point usually because I need to do (or am compelled to do) rewrites and revisions. I wish it was a matter of "type type type" and "The End." But there is a kind of #selfcare that I do on a regular basis that seems kind of celebratory, and I usually do it whenever I feel particularly good about an accomplishment and that's to book a massage at a local spa. So yeah, I think going to a Japanese spa is what I do to celebrate anything, and that includes finishing a story (if I can even definitively call it that). It's usually a two hour one with side accouterments like a steam room and sauna and my latest favorite: the warm coconut milk drizzle. Yeah, it's as awesome as it sounds.  Seriously, if you guys out there aren't getting massages, it could really change your mood and put you in a zen state for at least a week (give or take life's stressful circumstances).

Thank you for visiting.

Monday, March 5, 2018

I wanted Shape of Water to win Best Picture and it did. I'm super happy now.

Last night, I (like a lot of people) watched the Oscars on ABC. I had my favorites even though I was unable to see all of the Best Picture nominations in a category that was overflowing with deserving films. But I think the one I was behind the most as the night wore on was Guillermo del Toro's Shape of Water. But, I knew that it "could never win," because it was too weird. It was too "out there," and it resonated with me so strongly that nothing I ever loved that was this weird and alien and different could ever be Best Picture material, right? Boy was I wrong. This year the academy embraced the weird. There simply is nothing out there in movies like Shape of Water, and I'm so happy it beat out and won Guillermo del Toro not only a Best Picture Oscar, but an Academy Award for Best Director, something he's been deserving for many years now.

Each of the three characters in Shape of Water really resonated with me. One was a gay man, rejected and shunned by essentially everyone (believe me I know how that feels here in good ole Utah). One was a woman isolated and alone because of her disability, quirkiness, and probably because she didn't feel attractive or ever considered herself to be attractive. I also know what that feels like. And then there was the fish guy who was alone in the world with no family to talk to or anyone else that was like him. Ayep, I know what that feels like as well. I remember when my friend Jake went to see it with his family (hearing me rave about it), and he told me that they were so offended by all the sex that they walked out. I responded (rather snarkily), "It's good that you have that choice because if I could, I'd probably walk out on my life too and pay to see something else." I remember that comment took him aback and we stopped discussing the film together because he could see that I'd tied a lot of my identity to this strange and weird film from Guillermo del Toro, and that I was experiencing things with its story that he was not equipped to ever understand. It was an "agree to disagree" moment. I have these moments often with the Mormon that is Jake.

I couldn't have been happier with the Academy Award for Best Picture this year. For the other categories? I suppose that Gary Oldman was deserving of one given the little bits that I have seen of his Churchill impersonation. It's about time, right? But I also kinda wanted Timothee Chalamet to get an Oscar for Call Me By Your Name. However, (and if I'm being completely honest) I think that in the end, Oldman getting the Oscar was the better choice. Timothee is so young...he needs to do more to earn such a prestigious award. And my feelings toward his Oscar snub may be tied up with the fact that I'm a biased person that was obviously taken with him and his movie. At least I can admit my biases. It's probably a good thing that I don't vote for Oscar-nominated films.

Oh and can I say that Gal Gadot and Tom Holland were the best dressed man and woman at the Academy Awards? I'll include pics of both of them below so you can see (in case you missed the Academy Awards). Spiderman knows how to rock a tuxedo. #justsayin

Friday, March 2, 2018

LOL the Lego Infinity War set just spoiled where the sixth and final infinity stone is and we were right all along.

Everyone on the internet that cared kinda/sorta believed that the last Infinity Stone, a.k.a., the Soul Stone, was going to be found in Wakanda (because the trailers for the movie are all lit up with a huge battle that takes place in Wakanda). But it wasn't ever said to be in Wakanda, and it didn't appear in Black Panther, as I discussed in an earlier post. And Lo and behold, it looks like it definitely is. Here's a picture of the Lego set in question, and I've circled the soul stone in blue paint so it's easy to spot contained in an alien drill which obviously removes it from the ground in Wakanda (that's why the ground is all cracked). 
So now the question is: how does all of this fit together? And for answering that question there are a hundred theories I've read. I'm going to single out one and just quote directly from friend, Tony Hale, who lives over in Oregon. Earlier this week I sent him a message on Facebook about all of this stuff, and he responded with this theory:
"There is a problem with the locations of all the Infinity Stones, and it's this: it puts most of the stones on Earth. I actually think that Odin had the Soul Stone (and all of the other stones) at one point. Hence, the fake gauntlet in his treasury room. I also think Thanos gave Loki the mind stone so that he could put two of the stones near one another, namely the Tesseract (space stone) with the Mind Stone. In the comics, the writers hint that the stones are drawn to each other, and I think that Thanos wanted to get them all into play. So, I think he knew the gauntlet in Odin's treasury was fake, just like Odin obviously knew in addition to one other person: Hela.
    "So let me put it all together for you. When Odin worked with Hela to subvert the universe, he was actually collecting the stones. Partway through collecting them, he realized they were too dangerous together. So he left the Aether (the Reality Stone) with the elves. Odin also left the Power Stone with the remains of the destroyed ancient aliens, until Starlord stumbled across it. The aliens were one of the races destroyed along the way by Hela and Odin. The Mind Stone was never recovered (Thanos starts with it in his "possession"), and I think that Odin had not yet discovered it when he ended his search. The Time Stone (of course) was on Earth, which Odin learned after becoming deified by the Norse men and women. In this aspect, I think that Odin gave the gift of the Soul Stone to the people of Earth, who had deified him. In the comics, Thanos has a love affair with Death, but I think the MCU is not going to go as metaphysical with this character. Instead, they will use their already existing representation of Death in Hela. Well, Hela knew about the fake gauntlet, and she obviously wants to rule the universe. So she found someone devoted to her, filled him with the idea of the Gauntlet, and sent him to get it for her. That's what I think is going on."
It's a nice theory, but it leaves me a little wanting, because I think there are enough clues in Black Panther that the heart-shaped herb does indeed derive its power from the Soul Stone. And the Lego box has a picture of the Soul Stone being drilled from the ground by something heavy enough to crack the surface. Then of course there's the huge fight in Wakanda, which are not Norse people, so they couldn't have been the recipient of the Soul Stone. So yeah...maybe Tony is overthinking this? Maybe the Soul Stone just happened to be in a meteor of vibranium and crashed into the Earth millions of years ago, and it has yet to be extracted. That may end up being the sole explanation of all these questions about vibranium's seemingly endless powers to do fantastical things.

However, Tony does make me think that Hela may (in fact) not be dead and could have survived Asgard's destruction at the hands of Surtr. Maybe she has a role to play in all this to come.

One last piece of information: for those of you that are excited for Avengers: Infinity War, the release date has been moved up a week to Friday, April 27th for a worldwide simultaneous release. 

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Star Wars Rebels just took a sledghammer to the Star Wars universe in one of its last remaining episodes called "Wolves and a Door." Let's talk about it.

There are spoilers here, and we need to talk about what Star Wars: Rebels has done. I hope that there are some of you that are brave enough to talk about this with me, spoiler warning be damned.

First, Star Wars Rebels is canon. This is not "fake news." Disney (the company that purchased all of the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas for $4 billion a few years ago) has said as much. Here's a quote from the article on what is canon and what is not canon from Wookiepedia.

"The new canon began on screen with the Star Wars Rebels animated television series and in print with the novel A New Dawn. Under the direction of the Lucasfilm Story Group, all elements of Star Wars canon now operate in a unified and collaborative storytelling setting...."

The sledgehammering of the Star Wars universe took place in the Jedi Temple that had an entrance picturing the "Mortis gods" from an episode in The Clone Wars. This was a very interesting (old) episode, for the father (pictured in the middle) had two children: one represented the Dark Side of the Force and the other represented the Light Side of the Force. The father was essentially the balance between the Light Side and the Dark Side. The three of them were very powerful.

Anyway, once inside the temple, Ezra used the power in the temple and his own abilities through the Force to save Ahsoka Tano from Darth Vader (who I had presumed was dead two seasons ago in a spectacular battle on Malachor, where a Sith holocron was located). So he used time travel to actually save a major character who is now alive in the universe because Ezra chose to save her. Just think about that a moment. Time travel has now been introduced into the canon of Star Wars, and it is not just an observation kind of time travel. It is a kind of time travel that can undo literally anything.

Mace Windu was killed by the Emperor. Well not so fast. Are you sure? Let's time travel and fix that by giving Mace Windu a heads up at Anakin's betrayal.

The Jedi were taken by surprise that Senator Palpatine was in fact, Darth Sidious. Well...not so fast. Let's time travel and fix that by giving the Jedi council a heads up that's years in the making.

Oh, the singular moment where Han Solo is killed by his own son in The Force Awakens goes down as a spectacularly bad decision on Han Solo's part. Well...let's fix that by undoing a few things.

Seriously...everything that we know about Star Wars' entire story from the very beginning can now be rewritten. Nothing is sacred unless Disney wants it to be. Holy Cow! That is just crazy to consider, and I don't know how exactly I should feel about this. It's incredibly tempting to say that it is a good thing for the franchise which now has a way to deal with plots that are unpopular. But does it feel like maybe too powerful a weapon with regard to a story that is close to the hearts of so many? Does it feel like Star Wars Rebels maybe crossed a line somewhere?

I want to talk about this with someone. Let me hear your thoughts. Hopefully there are going to be some who are intrigued or horrified by this new development in the Star Wars universe's canon. Maybe Princess Leia should have uttered the phrase (back in A New Hope), "Help me Dave're my only hope" instead of "ObiWan Kenobi," because Dave Filoni has just upended everything.