Welcome To My Blog

Ever wonder what it's like to be in that moment between struggling artist and published author? Read on and find out.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Movie Review - Olympus Has Fallen

Olympus Has Fallen  $$$     

120 Minutes
Starring: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart,  Rick Yune, Angela Bassett, and Morgan Freeman.
Director: Antoine Fuqua. 


            I enjoyed Die Hard. I enjoyed Under Siege, which is Die Hard on a ship. And I enjoyed Olympus Has Fallen, which is Die Hard at the White House. In fact, I think that this movie did a much better job with the Die Hard concept than the latest film in the actual franchise. (See my review for A Good Day to Die Hard.)
            Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) protects The President (Aaron Eckhart) and his family. At least he does until tragedy strikes the First Family. President Asher has the former special forces, Secret Services Agent reassigned to a desk job. Move forward several months and we find ourselves in the middle of a siege. Kang (Rick Yune) has captured the White House and is holding The President hostage in the high security bunker below.
            Without waiting for an invitation to the party, Banning launches a one man war against the terrorists who threaten the safety of not only the President, but the entire United States.
            As far as the story line goes, it’s Die Hard at the White House. If that sounds interesting to you, then you should enjoy watching it. I found most of the actual terrorist assault hard to believe – even for a movie. Once the film moved past that, the action and storyline were more believable.  There are copious amounts of violence and blood. The language is typical for an ‘R’ rated movie. Gerard Butler turns in a good performance as does the rest of the cast. And let’s face it; the movie has Morgan Freeman in it. That elevates the whole viewing experience. The action sequences flow well, but otherwise the sound and visual effects are pretty standard for an explosion-filled action movie.  
            This film earned a solid three Movie-Bucks. It connected pretty well on an emotional level, even inspiring a few patriotic moments for me. It loses half a movie buck for the unreasonable take over of the White House and another half movie buck for the obvious reliance on the standard Die Hard story line.  Catch this as a matinee or other discount showing and I think you will have a good time. 

                        Randy’s Rating System

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.


Monday, March 25, 2013

Final Writing Prod

            Well, this is it for my Writing Prods. As much as I enjoy them, if my readers are not interested in reading them I need to find something else to write. After today, I will stick with movie reviews and micro fiction. No more posts on how to be a more effective writer.
Two more of my original writing prods remain to be covered a second time. I figured that I might as well take a look at both of them and combine them into one final story pitch.
What’s In A Name . . . is one of my favorite prompts and one that I have used to write several stories that I have submitted to publishers. The idea is to select a book title that you love and then write a story about it. It’s probably best if you change the name of the story once you’re done.
Skewed View . . . takes a story that already exists and then write it from a radically different point of view, like that of an insect, or an alien, or even a stuffed animal.
            For my example, I’m going to use the title of my favorite book when I was a teen - Damnation Alley. That is a post-apocalyptic story about the last of the Hell’s Angels. How better to represent that book, in a different way, than to turn this into a literal setting. What if there was a specific place in Hell for fallen angels? What might it be like? What sort of things might be going on there?
            But telling that story from the point of view of one of the fallen angels would be the obvious route here. Even telling it from the point of view of one of the devils fails to skew the story enough for the second prompt. But what does that leave?


            Down and Mostly Out           

            Ben enjoyed life, while it lasted. He lived fast and free and hard. Too late did he realize that there is more to any of our lives than just living it up. Standing before God he is given a chance to redeem himself. There is a portion of Hell where the fallen angels are sent and the worst of the demons dwell. He must travel there and determine if one of the fallen was unjustly cast out.
            Then once that is done, he must find his own way out of Hell.  




Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Movie Review - Escape from Planet Earth

Escape from Planet Earth $$$   

89 Minutes
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Jessica Alba, Rob Corddry, and Ricky Gervais.
Director: Cal Brunker.

            This is a film that I almost missed. I don’t know how large of an advertising campaign it had, but I saw virtually nothing about it besides posters at the theater. That being said, I found it to be a fun movie.
            Scorch (Brendan Fraser) and Gary (Rob Corddry) are brothers on the planet of Baab (pronounced Bob). Of course, they are as different as brothers can be. Scorch is the younger, famous brother that works as a full time hero. Gary is the genius that puts supports him on his BASA missions. 
            Problems arise when the two have an argument and Gary quits, or is fired depending on which of the brothers you ask. Scorch accepts an ill-advised mission to the Dark Planet; so named because no one has ever returned from it. Then, you guessed it, Gary heads off on his own to rescue his little-bigger brother.
            If you are in the mood for cute and funny family movie, then this will be just right for you. There are plenty of laughs throughout it. And there is even the customary bonding scene between the good guys at the appropriate time. Overall, it was a good time.

            That being said, it is extremely predictable. Blame the writing for the faults, which are few, in this film. They were witty enough naming human characters after well-known directors, but a little more attention to the plot could have resulted in a much more spectacular story.
            I gave this movie three movie-bucks because it was a good matinee choice for the family. Although, the special effects and sound effects were not spectacular enough that you would miss anything if you saw the movie at a discount theater. The kids should love it. Adults should be able to tolerate it. I enjoyed it.



                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.

$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.

$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.

$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.

0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.



Monday, March 18, 2013

Writing Prod - Holiday Mixer 2

            With the taste of Saint Patrick’s Day dinner fresh in mind and the beginning of plans for Easter just starting to intrude into my thoughts, it seemed only right that I took another look at . . . the Holiday Mixer. This prompt has the writer take two holidays and mix them together to come up with an unusual setting and an unusual story.
            And since we are smack in the middle of the aforementioned holidays I will work with them in creating this week’s sample story.


            The Egg Thief 

            Life is good in the little farming community of Dun Ibhir Dell; the weather is cool, the potato harvest is the best in years, and the chickens are laying eggs in record numbers. And yet, Darby has gathered the fewest eggs of any year he can remember.
            Things change when he sets a trap and captures a Puka who has been stealing the eggs as part of a tribute that is paid to giants in a far away land. As any self-respecting Leprechaun would, Darby decides to see this land of miracles for himself and maybe even steal a pot of gold that legends say the giants jealously guard.



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Movie Review - Jack the Giant Slayer

Jack the Giant Slayer  $$$ 1/2   


114 Minutes
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Stanley Tucci, Ewan McGregor, and Eleanor Tomlinson.
Director: Bryan Singer.

            In recent years, Hollywood has relied heavily on retelling well known stories. Remakes of old television series and previously successful movies have become a common item on the movie-going menu. Producers seem more willing to back proven stories than take a risk on something new.
            Granted, it is no easy matter to find new material. The longer Hollywood stays in business the more original material they will grind through. As it is we have about a century worth of storylines stockpiled in the celluloid vaults.
            Jack the Giant Slayer is a telling of the popular children’s story: Jack and the Beanstalk. For those of you who somehow missed hearing that tale as a child – Jack is sent to market to sell the family horse and buy some much needed supplies. He ends up with magic beans that are thrown out and end up growing a huge beanstalk that rises into the sky. Climbing the beanstalk, Jack finds a land inhabited by giants.
            However, in this version Jack (Nicholas Hoult) has met himself a princess (Eleanor Tomlinson) and ascends the magic stalk in order to rescue her. He is accompanied by a host of the king’s elite troops, including Elmont (Ewan McGregor) and the rascally Sir Roderick (Stanley Tucci).  

            The acting was good. The writing was a decent reforging of a well-known tale. And the special effects were great. I loved watching the giants. The chemistry between Jack and the Princess was believable and fun. All in all, this was an excellent family movie. More mature audience may find it less appealing.
            The film scored a solid three-and-a-half movie bucks from me. The giants definitely need to be seen on the big screen. The action too screams out for a first-run theater showing. But it won’t hurt to catch it as a matinee.  

                        Randy’s Rating System 

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.

$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.

$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.

$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.

0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Writing Prod - Fairy Bad 2

            How many different ways are there to lead into the Writing Prod?           

            I don’t know, but at times I find it difficult to come up with a new one. Just for the record, this is number forty-five. Which means I’ve been doing this for almost a year. During that time I have come up with a few ideas that turned into short stories I submitted for publication and a couple of novel ideas that I placed on my writing list. This weekly exercise in creativity has certainly been helpful to me, but what about my readers? Is this feature helpful, or entertaining, to any of you out there?
            Is it time for me to take a good look at this blog and change things up in a significant manner? What can I do to improve this blog? What sort of features would make you want to stop by more often? Please post a comment with your thoughts about it.  

            The prompt this week is something I call . . . Fairy Bad. Take a fairy tale or a popular story and write it from the villain’s point of view. If you want a little more realism in your tale then pick a BIG news story that has happened recently and work it from the point of view of the least favorable person involved. Make us understand why that person acted the way they did. Make us believe that they are not the villain at all; maybe they are just misunderstood and maybe they are really the victim of unfavorable press.


            Union Hogs 

            The forest used to be a nice place to live. All of the folks got along real well. Sure there might be a tussle or two at the Spring Spree, but by the time the Fall Feast rolled around all had been forgiven. Then the Hoggs took over the south mire. Bought it from their cousins, the three little pigs. Along with them they brought the Union; Contractor Local 1372 to be exact. They set to clearing out the briar patch and that’s when the trouble started. That section of the woods belonged to Lupa, the wolf, and those Hoggs wanted to build houses there. Well, you can imagine what happened next.