It Can’t Be Handwaved


O.k., so, I just got out of this FANTASTIC sci-fi movie called “Into Darkness,” (maybe you’ve heard of it?) which made me wish that they’d make a Star Trek movie.

Actually, I’m fairly certain that the creative conversation between The Studio and J.J. Abrams went something like this
Studio: “Abrams, you’ve obviously got directing cred. How familiar are you with Star Trek?”
Abrams: “I’ve never seen an episode.”
Studio: “Do you care if our writers are going to make Roddenberry turn in his grave?” (I realize that he was cremated.)
Abrams: “Who’s Roddenberry?”
Studio: “Perfect! You’re hired!”

Because, honestly, I’m pretty certain that no one involved with the making of the new movies cares anything at all about the lifelong fans of the series. This, to me, is offensive and a slap in the face to hardcore fans. It’s like we don’t even matter, and that our passion and dedication (ya know, that which makes us geeks?) is minimalized and insignificant, in the face of getting new blood in. Our love is meaningless, against the siren call of the cold, hard dollar.

Don’t get me wrong, I am completely and utterly aware that this is a reboot. I don’t care. And, as most people who know me know, I don’t like reboots. I especially don’t like them, if they’re of subject matter that I care about. If you have issues with this, or want to debate me about whether or not I should be allowed to bitch about this, stop reading now. Also, I’m not saying that you’re wrong for liking it. I’m saying that, as a die hard fan of Star Trek, and someone who doesn’t see the necessity behind changing what really worked, for years on end, I found several inconsistencies within the movie that shouldn’t have been there. And, I’m about to go over a few, which means ARR! HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!

INCONSISTENCY #1 – Enterprise
Holy hell, how many things are wrong with this area? The way they hid the Enterprise IN A FREAKING OCEAN. She’s not a planet capable ship. The “window” which isn’t. How they were having parts of the ship fly off, simply because of re-entering atmosphere, when that has NEVER been an issue on an “M” class planet.

INCONSISTENCY #2 – the women
Dr. Marcus BEING A WEAPON’S SPECIALIST?! The brain behind Project Genesis – someone who was passionate about life, and wasn’t even IN Starfleet – was morphed into a Starfleet WEAPON’S SPECIALIST?! Wrong. Wrongwrongwrong. And, don’t give me the hand wave of “different timeline.” Vulcan being destroyed could not have possibly made THAT drastic a history change, when the fundamentals of character persona hasn’t been altered in ANY of the characters.

Uhura having issues with Spock DOING HIS JOB?! Firstly, she is one bad ass STARFLEET OFFICER. She has NEVER evidenced problems with her fellow officers sacrificing themselves. It’s a dangerous universe, and they have a dangerous job. She would NOT have reacted in the “wife who doesn’t understand her husband-cop’s job” stereotype. My girl who can throw down with Klingons wouldn’t pull shit like that.

And, the last inconsistency that I feel like getting into…
INCONSISTENCY #3 – the Admirals
Hello, my name is Amelia Merbler, you killed off Admiral Pike. Prepare to die. Yes, I DO understand that this is an alternative universe, but do you have ANY clue what kind of powerful side character he has been in the series? And you KILLED HIM OFF?! (Yes, this IS why That Movie never happened. Data is still alive, damnit. Otherwise, Imzadi would never have happened, and that’s just wrong.)

Admiral Marcus trying to mastermind the Klingon/Federation war? I’m sorry, but no. That pretty much makes Narendra 3 (and just about everything else that happened during the war) meaningless at worst and pyrattic at best. Yes, I realize that there were corrupt officers, but I don’t see the pure Roddenberry era Starfleet admirals acting like this. This just isn’t my Star Trek.

And, honestly, I think that that’s what bothers me the most. Something that I hold near and dear to my heart has completely morphed and left me behind. People do that. Icons of childhood, like tv shows and comic books (or childhood homes or schools) shouldn’t do that. I feel like a part of my childhood has been destroyed in the name of the almighty dollar.

Advertisements

Iron Man 3



Rating: 4 paws

One quote from the movie that I particularly cared for: “Are you cold? Do you know how I could tell? Because we’re connected.”

Summary of the movie in one sentence: Tony Stark, while suffering from PTSD, discovers that he really is Iron Man (and the real meaning of Christmas.)
————–
First paw consists of the writing style – this is the technical aspect of the movie. You know how I mentioned in my Die Hard review how action movies can have excellent writing? This movie would be an example of that. While Joss only had the briefest of mentions in the credits, there were enough brilliant one liners that I knew that one of my favorite directors was involved. The dialog was what I’ve come to expect from Marvel Studios (which is wonderful and witty,) the character development was there, strengthening the writing, but without overpowering what is, essentially, an action flick, and the actual plot (which I will cover, later,) was consistent and well done within the (hopefully!) series.

The second paw is “emotional connection” – basically, was I *interested* in what I was watching? Now, it might just be that I’m an unabashed fangirl, but the movie held me in thrall throughout the entire film (and past, because I refused to leave until I’d seen the afterclip, wanting to drain every moment of geeky goodness from this story.) I laughed, I clapped, I cried out in outrage. To say that I was emotionally involved is an understatement.

Third paw is plot – akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. Again, the plot is what I’ve come to expect from the writing styles of Marvel Studios (okay, the recent movies – not the mess that was Daredevil.) Strong storytelling, enough character development to satisfy, and enough twists (that, while obvious, were still entertainingly executed) to make this film one of the action movies that prove that this genre doesn’t have to rely on explosions to make it fun. (Although, don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of those, as well.)

The last paw is “Other Stuff,” which is pretty much anything that doesn’t go into another category but is still note-worthy. Let’s just get this out of the way: Tony Stark and Robert Downey Jr. and RDJ playing Tony? Are all hot. And, as past posts have proven, I’d give this paw simply for that. However, thankfully for my critic cred, there was enough going right with this movie that the eyecandy isn’t the only thing worth mentioning. The explosions, while some might still consider that to be eyecandy, were excellent and fun, without being overdone. That the writers actually managed to make them into a plot point, instead of simple window dressing, at the end, very much impressed me.

A Good Day to Die Hard


A Good Day to Die Hard (2013) Poster

Rating: 2 paws

One quote from the movie that I particularly cared for: “I took Garden.” // “I could have been a dancer.”

Summary of the movie in one sentence: McClane saves McClane which in turn allows McClane to regain McClane and then they kill the scumbags.
————–
First paw consists of the writing style – this is the technical aspect of the movie. You see the quotes above? That pretty much sums up the writing style of the entire movie. When it wasn’t simply lazy and predictable, it was self-referential. And, before you lambast me for being critical of an action flick, let me assure you that action does NOT have to mean predictable. Suspense (and, I’m talking about the build-up, not the horror) is supposed to originate from unique turns of events. This suffered greatly from lack thereof. I’m actually not counting off for it being self-referential, as this is the fifth movie in a series that’s known for being self-referential. It’s true to form, on that. I refuse to give the paw, due to the lazy writing, but I am impressed with the writers being able to keep the same jokes fresh.

The second paw is “emotional connection” – basically, was I *interested* in what I was watching? Dear writers, you ARE aware that you were supposed to be creating an ACTION MOVIE, right? WTH was with a character-driven, character-development writing style doing in my ACTION MOVIE?! Bad. BADBADBAD. No cookie for you. You inspired me to be annoyed, which doesn’t actually give you this paw for emotional connection. Also, I probably would have cared more about the characters you were so obviously trying to make sure changed in Disney-esque fashion, HAD YOU NOT BEEN SO PREDICTABLE.

Third paw is plot – akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. There was a plot, which I wasn’t completely certain there would be, going in. Although other Die Hards have had surprisingly good plots, action movies are not generally known for their storytelling, and I would have been perfectly willing to accept a rather spotty plot. However, the fact that the storytelling was completely shallow, and the “plot twists” were so blindingly obvious that they might as well have been nonexistent, I want to say that the writers went “plot? we don’t need no stinking plots” and not give the paw. However, that wouldn’t be true to the review scale, so I’ll give you this paw. BUT I SHOULDN’T.

The last paw is “Other Stuff,” which is pretty much anything that doesn’t go into another category but is still note-worthy. Did I mention that the writing was lazy? Yes? Okay, how about the actual shooting of the film itself? As far as I could tell, they tried to make us nostalgic for the early Die Hards, with their updated 80s action flick style explosions. As well as the ending shot, which was a pure waste of time. However, if there was nothing truly exciting in the explosions, at least the film didn’t suffer from shaky cam, and its very few “artistic” shots weren’t obnoxious. Because the lack of being obnoxious in filming an action movie is rare these days, I’ll give the paw. Also? Bruce Willis is hot, so I’d probably give this paw based on his eye candy-worth.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray


beauty queens

Rating: 4 paws

One quote from the book that I particularly cared for: “Men have feelings too, you know. You bruise the petals of my manflower.”

Summary of the book in one sentence: Beauty Queens is a wonderful story about how the Liberal Agenda triumphs over Crass Commercialism Ideals.
————–
First paw consists of the writing style – this is the technical aspect of the book. It was a bit disconcerting, the different points of view and snippets of commercials interspersed through out the book, but I think that Bray actually handled it well, and it wasn’t so jarring that it threw me out of the book. It was definitely a departure from first person, single protagonist writing, and, to be honest, I loved the snippets. Also? she’s hilarious. At least, she feeds my sense of humor. And, as her audience, that’s really all one can ask for.

The second paw is “emotional connection” – basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? Even while I wanted to throw something at the characters from time to time, I was emotionally connected to them. Actually, me saying that I wanted to throw something is probably a pretty good indicator that I was emotionally connected to the book. And, it’s certainly a book that, simply because of the values it’s preaching, is going to make people connect – either in a good way, or a bad. It rather depends on how one reacts to the values, and preaching.

Third paw is plot – akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. As it’s political/social commentary and satire, and it’s also very Agenda-ed writing, the plot is very predictable and easily seen through. Of course, there’s not much that one can do about that, with Agenda-ed writing. I think that the blatant humor running rampant throughout, and the highly entertaining and endearing characters more than made up for it, though.

The last paw is “Other Stuff,” which is pretty much anything that doesn’t go into another category but is still note-worthy. While I very much enjoyed the book, it also made me want to go read something that was the exact opposite, afterwards, simply to have a more balanced world view. That’s purely a “me” thing, though. Also, I read this book over a year ago, and I still remember bits and pieces of it, and would be more than happy to re-read it. I thought it highly enjoyable.

His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik


Rating: 4 paws

One quote from the book that I particularly cared for: “I should rather have you than a heap of gold, even if it were very comfortable to sleep on.”

Summary of the book in one sentence: Capt. Will Laurence unexpectedly becomes the partner of a particularly intelligent dragon, and the training of both of them into the strange new world of the dragon corp.
————–
First paw consists of the writing style this is the technical aspect of the book. I’ll admit, it took me a bit of an adjustment period to get used to Novik’s writing style. While it isn’t as lyrical/poetical as some that I’ve come across, she’s certainly the kind who’s painting a word picture instead of being succinct and “just” telling a story, and I really have to be in the mood for that kind of thing. However, once I got in to her style, I found myself spell-bound and really enjoyed myself. The entire story seemed to flow, and nothing rocked me out of the world that she created. The writing was beautifully crafted.

The second paw is “emotional connection” – basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? I have to be honest, I don’t normally go for historical fiction. Had a friend of mine not suggested that I read this, I probably wouldn’t have picked it up. So, I wasn’t expecting to have quite as much connection that I did have to it. However, I was drawn in to this world, and made to care about even the tertiary characters. It was definitely the kind of world that I want to spend many many more hours in. And, fortunately, I can.

Third paw is plot – akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. While I probably would have liked it more, had I a firmer grasp on what actually happened in the Napoleonic wars/period, it’s really not necessary for the audience. Novik manages to create a world and story that makes sense without knowing what historically happened, and makes that world come alive. While I don’t remember being thrown by any of the plot twists (okay, so, I don’t remember any plot twists at all,) I do remember that I was never bored with the book.

The last paw is “Other Stuff,” which is pretty much anything that doesn’t go into another category but is still note-worthy. Historical fiction that has DRAGONS in it. Do I really have to say anything else? Yes? Okay, how about: Historical fiction that has dragons as a realistic part of history and is a series of awesome books.

Urban Shaman by C.E. Murphy


Image

Rating: 3 paws

One quote from the book that I particularly cared for: “I’m not a goddamned faith healer! I don’t talk to God! I’m a mechanic and her goddamned engine was broken!”

Summary of the book in one sentence: Wherein “Scully” (Joanne) is forced to the realization that “there are more things on earth,” that magic is real, and that she has her own dose of power.
————–
First paw consists of the writing style – basically, this is the technical aspect of the book. Now, I haven’t visited this book In Awhile, but from my notes while reading it, I didn’t note any glaring irritations, and that’s something that I’ve always noted down. In fact, from my notes, all I seemed to be doing was squeeing over the story, which tells me that I was quite satisfied with the writing. So, while I probably would have given this a neon glowing paw, had I been writing the review right after reading this, all I’m just giving credit for this category.

The second paw is “emotional connection” – basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? I remember after reading this, I immediately went to Audible and bought the next three books in the series, because I enjoyed it so much. That distinctly sticks out. I loved the characters, the plot held my interest, everything in this seemed unique. I appreciated that there was a strong female character who wasn’t a complete bitch, too. So, even years later, I can say with authority that this book deserves this paw.

Third paw is plot – akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. I remember thinking that this story was really unique, and, at the time, it was, to me. It was the first time I’d read something like this, and thus, it kept me enthralled. I loved the characters, and how everyone had a distinct voice. I’ve since read many other urban fantasy novels with strong female leads, and I have to say that, while the main premise is like other books, this is still a book that’s unique in it’s field. It’s enjoyable, the characters are human but enjoyable, and the story itself is actually pretty unique. It’s not that twisty, plot-wise, but even for that, I’d still say the plot is strongly and enjoyably written. So, another paw earned.

The last paw is “Other Stuff,” which is pretty much anything that doesn’t go into another category but is still note-worthy. Again, it’s been years since I read this one, so there isn’t much that I can put here. I do note that I gave this a five-star rating on Goodreads, and I do remember instantly buying the next three books in the series after reading this. However, the thing that really sticks out at me about this book is the memory of thinking that she spent far too much time on the subject of the twins, and that was slightly grating, as it didn’t do anything to strengthen the book. So, because a negative memory is what stuck out the story, I’m not actually going to give this paw. Even if that means there’s a discrepancy between my rating here and my Goodreads stars.

Year Zero by Rob Reid


Rating: 4 paws

One quote from the book that I particularly cared for: “More like ‘involuntary assisted suicide.'”

Summary of the book in one sentence: What happens when aliens decide humanity has the best possible music and bankrupts the universe because of copywrite laws.
————–
First paw consists of the writing style – basically, this is the technical aspect of the book. This book is going for two genres: sci-fi and humor. The humor is coming off every page, but even then, he doesn’t get slapstick or gimmicky, which I very much approve of. He also doesn’t have puerile fart jokes or other gross “humor.” He does have some very topical and date specific jokes in it, so the humor might not be as relevant in ten years, but that isn’t the majority of the humor, so I won’t hold that against him. As for the sci-fi, it’s about *aliens* and has alien technology in it. You don’t get much more sci-fi. But wait! Where some sci-fi humorists overlook trying to do what more serious sci-fi writers do and explain their technology, HE ACTUALLY DOES explain some. I was actually really impressed with that. He very much met this category.

The second paw is “emotional connection” – basically, was I *interested* in what I was reading? I don’t think there was one instant of reading this that I *wasn’t* interested in what he was writing. I loved the characters, I was engaged in the plot, I enjoyed his word choices. The connection was strong for this one.

Third paw is plot – akin to writing style, but purely about The Story. In a lot of sci-fi stories, you get deus ex machina solutions, which can get quite irritating after reading the umpteenth novel with such. Reid apparently shares my frustration with that cliche of writing, as every possible DEM solution the characters try, it either fizzles before working or actually makes the situation worse. While it could be argued that the ending was a big DEM solution, *I* was entertained enough by it that I found it satisfying even knowing that it was one. While I can’t say that I found the plot to be at all twisty, and the characters didn’t really have much development, it was still a satisfying story. This isn’t a strong paw, but he does have it.

The last paw is “Other Stuff,” which is pretty much anything that doesn’t go into another category but is still note-worthy. I have a confession to make: when I read Douglas Adams, I don’t end up laughing out loud very often. I find his books delightfully funny, but not bursting-a-gut laughing funny. It’s the same with Monty Python. Or with Ernst Cline’s Ready Player One. All of these are great fun, but none really get me rolling over laughing. It’s the same with this book. Reid is funny and often witty (which are vastly different things, in case you didn’t know,) but he didn’t inspire any great guffaws of laughter from me. And, you know what? That’s okay. He was going for humor, and he achieved it. So, for those critics wondering how this book could possibly be compared to Douglas Adams? Have you READ The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul? This is very much in that vein of humor. Having said that, I give this paw to the book, purely for reminding me of one of my favorite authors, while still being completely unique and having it’s own voice.