Monday, July 22, 2013

5 Reasons to see 'Pacific Rim'

This past weekend my friends and I went to see the recently released Pacific Rim, a movie whose release we'd greatly anticipated. And I have to say . . . it was pretty epic. I mean, robots vs. aliens (or in this case, Jaegers vs. Kaiju). Enough said. 

But then again Cowboys vs. Aliens, a movie with such promise, wound up being a complete disappointment. So much so that even Han Solo and 007 couldn't save it. Fortunately for hopeful movie go-ers like myself, Pacific Rim delivered.

Of course, you don't have to take my word for it. After all, I love Sy-Fy channel original movies, so my taste is often considered questionable. But for what it's worth, here are five good reasons to head to the theater . . .

1. Director Guillermo del Toro's distinctive cinematic style. As with all his films, del Toro doesn't hold back. His ode to monsters is as visually dazzling as his darker fairy tales, and he manages to make the fight scenes between giant robots and their alien foe look both believable and somehow balletic. 

2. The use of mind synchronization via "drifting". In order to operate such massive pieces of robotic machinery as the Jaegers, the two pilots driving them have to merge their thoughts, memories and even emotions. Not since Star Trek has there been a Mind Meld quite this interesting. 

3. Dr. Newton Geiszler and Dr. Hermann Gottleib. I'm always a sucker for the hilarious side characters, and the amusing antagonism and banter between these two scientists made for great film. 

4. Occasionally in these blockbuster action movies, writers sacrifice character arc for unnecessary action sequences. Not so in this case. The characters each feel developed with realistic motivations. Their relationships between one another feel authentic, and the film manages to hint at a romance without falling into typical Hollywood stereotypes of an unnecessary kiss in the middle of a dangers battle. 

5. Last but not least, it isn's a sequel or a remake. Not that I mind a good sequel, but it seems that there's very little original thought happening in Hollywood at the moment. While Pacific Rim certainly borrows from other alien/robot material and pays homage to the anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion, it's a fresh story with a plot all of its own.

All in all, I thought Pacific Rim was a terrific summer film and I'm pleased to have paid the astronomical fees they're asking these days to see it in theaters. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Summer Blockbuster Kings

Every year when the summer rolls in, it brings with it hot temperatures (or in the case of Houston, Texas - extremely hot temperatures), trips to the lake, beach and/or pool, barbecuing, vacations, and of course . . . SUMMER BLOCKBUSTERS

These multi-million dollar films are perhaps my favorite summertime occurrence. With their explosions and car chases, dramatic music crescendos and poorly timed kissing scenes (usually set during the middle of the aforementioned explosions), summer blockbusters are a real highlight. And this summer lacks for nothing. World War Z, White House Down, Pacific Rim, Red 2, Elysium . . . the list goes on and on. I only lack the time to keep up with their premieres. But never fear, I shall make it to all of them before the first cold front makes and appearance.

But I think the best part about this fantastic film season is the return of a few familiar faces, who I like to call the "Kings of Summer Blockbusters". Like the movie equivalent of high school star athletes and prom kings, these actors reach their cinematic peak during the months of May to August and light up the screen with their charismatic performances. Or, you know, C-4. 

(also known as My Favorite Action Stars)

These veterans have been around the block. They've survived explosion, faced speeding trains and crashing planes, and even gotten shot a time or two. They're also my personal heroes . . .

Harrison Ford 
"Most Likely to Shoot First"
- Star Wars
- Indiana Jones
- Blade Runner
- Cowboys and Aliens
- Air Force One 
Bruce Willis
"Best Catch-Phrase"
- Die Hard
- Red
- Sin City
- The Expendables
- Pulp Fiction 
Samuel L. Jackson
"Most Likely to Chose a Movie Based on the Title"
- Jurassic Park
- Die Hard
- Snakes on a Plane
- Assorted Marvel films
- The Avengers
- Pulp Fiction
- Star Wars
- xXx
Tom Cruise
"Most Likely to Use Camera Techniques to Appear Taller"
- War of the Worlds
- Knight and Day
- Mission Impossible
- Top Gun
- Minority Report 
Will Smith
"Most Sarcastic"
- Men in Black
- Bad Boys
- Independence Day
- I, Robot
- Hancock 

The've been around the block. They've made a name for themselves. You smile wide when you see their name attached to an upcoming film. But they've got a ways to go before their names become synonymous with 'action superstar'.
- Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean series, The Lone Ranger 
- Mark Wahlberg - The Italian Job, Planet of the Apes, 2 Guns, The Other Guys
- Orlando Bloom - Pirates of the Caribbean, Troy 
- Matt Damon - Oceans 11-13, Elysium
- Brad Pitt - World War Z, Troy, Oceans 11-13, Mr and Mrs. Smith
- Robert Downy, Jr. - Iron Man, The Avengers, Sherlock Holmes
- Christian Bale - The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Terminator Salvation 
- Hugh Jackman - Wolverine, The X-Men franchise, Reel Steel 
- Bradley Cooper - The A Team, The Hangovers

The new kids on the block, these guys have some touch shoes to fills. But with their movie-star good looks and their willingness to wade in guns blazing, these boys are ready to take the summer by storm. 
- Channing Tatum - White House Down, G. I. Joe, 21 Jump Street
- Shia LaBeouf - Transformers, Indiana Jones
- Chris Pine - Star Trek series, Unstoppable
- Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Inception, The Dark Knight Trilogy
- Sam Worthington - Terminator Salvation, Avatars, Clash of the Titans 
- Ryan Reynolds - Green Lantern, R.I.P.D.
- Chris Hemmsworth - Thor, Avengers, Red Dawn 
- Jeremy Renner - Avengers, Boure Legacy, Hurt Locker 

Honorable Mention:
Denzel Washington - His blockbusters may not have come out during the summertime, but he's been in WAY too many action movies to leave off this list.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Insecure Writer's Suppor Group

It's the first Wednesday of the month and that means it's time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group, hosted by one of my favorite bloggers and author of the CassaFire series, Alex J. Cavanaugh

So here's my worry for the month . . . what happens when a writer who's always worked alone decides to try working on a manuscript with a second author? I have to admit, I'm a little worried. What if we struggle to work together? What if it doesn't go well. 

But on the other hand, what if the book gets done twice as fast and twice as well? It's hard to say how it'll go, but for better or worse, I'm diving in. And if anyone has any tips for working with a writing partner, feel free to pass them my way!

Monday, July 1, 2013

What Would Buffy Do?

Good grief this has been a busy summer. Trips, rehab, more trips, MOVING . . . which by the way, is the worst thing in the entire world. I am not looking forward to doing it again in 14-ish months when my lease is up. 

But I digress. With all that's been going on this summer, I've neglected my writing, my working out (not great during this bathing-suit heavy time of year) and of course, my blog. Which I will attempt to rectify in the oncoming weeks. 

However, the one thing I haven't neglected is my classic sci-fi TV show watching. My roommates and I have taken a walk down memory lane and started watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer from the beginning. And let me say, it's as wonderful now as it was when my mom insisted I watch it in the 6th grade. 

As my roommates and I hunker down on our couches every few days to blow through a couple episodes, we often find ourselves amused by the moronic high school teens who walk down dark alleys by themselves late at night, only to be attacked by blood-sucking vampires and subsequently rescued by Buffy. 

Which of course makes me think of my idol and Buffy creator Joss Whedon, who began  the series after being disgusted by the "little blonde girl who goes into a dark alley and gets killed in every horror movie. The idea of Buffy was to subvert that idea, that image, and create someone who was a hero where she had always been a victim."

Buffy was certainly a a hero to me. Someone for me to look up to as a young girl . . . and as a fully grown one sixteen years later. And she taught me many important life lessons that I carry with me. Including: 

1. Never face an apocalypse alone. Always bring your two best friends along as backup. 

2. When in doubt, ask a librarian. They know everything. 

3. Never fight the undead without really great shoes. 

4. Caring about others is a strength - not a weakness.  

5. Choose Halloween costumes wisely. Very wisely. 

6. Friends don't let friends turn evil. 

7. And most importantly, you don't have to be a muscular, cape wearing superhero to fight evil or save the day. You can be the petite blond who usually dies in horror movies. Or a nerdy redhead. Or the class clown. Or the stuck-up cheerleader. Or the once-evil-turned-good undead. Or the tweed-wearing librarian. Anyone with the courage to stand up to the darkness can be a hero. 

So thank you Buffy for imparting your wisdom to an impressionable young girl. And when in doubt, always ask . . . What Would Buffy Do?