The Delay

Part 3 of The Devil & Me will be posted tomorrow. It’s been brewing for a little while and took a lot longer than I planned.

As mentioned before, there was only an outline of where the story would go after the first couple of parts. Even without the editing process and what not, this project turned out to be a bigger task to complete than I expected… for not fun reasons.

Part 3 is probably the closest to the correct voice for this short story and I’m at least happy about that. I’ll probably discuss in the future how much the story changed from its conception, the first part, and to its conclusion.

It’s interesting to see how a story can change and The Devil & Me is a demonstration of why editing is golden and why stepping away from your work and approaching it with fresh mind and eyes will probably do it more good than harm.

Unfortunately, it’s been a chaotic month with a lot of unexpected things occurring and I couldn’t justify giving this project and other blog posts more time than I was already giving it. I’m also trying to finish my next novel as well on the side.

I’ll get better at juggling it all but it seems the next month is looking a bit hectic as well. But I’ll figure something out.

Anyways. This is just how things go sometimes but I do apologize to those who’ve been waiting.

a Quick Review: Avengers: Infinity War

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It’s great.

Go see it.

I’ll keep the first part of this completely spoiler-free as it’s necessary for this film. It’s that integral to the experience and it’s not an experience that should be meddled with if you’re a fan of the series. However, it’s also a type of film (and perhaps speaks for my liking of it) that even any praise or criticism may sort of being a spoiler for those who truly want a genuine experience with all of its integrity intact.

I will note, however, that I have no idea how this film will be for those who haven’t watched many, if any, of the other Marvel films.

But if you have any inclination towards watching this film, stop reading, watching any reviews—such as this one—any interviews, any previews, etc., and just…

…go see it. Now.

This is probably not only my personal favorite of the Marvel films but also simply the best one yet. The writing and presentation of the film surpass the films of the past so superbly that the film may set a new standard too high for the next, inevitable, collaboration Marvel film.

I won’t be posting any pics from the film in this entry because that in and of itself would be doing a disservice to those who are thinking of seeing this film.

The tone is almost perfect with just the right balance of humor and gravity. It’s the near-perfect execution of what most of the Marvel films wanted to accomplish in the past. And it’s everything Justice League wanted to be and wished it could be.

 

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Dark colors and frowns mean we’re serious.

 

It’s a writing marvel (no pun intended) regarding how meticulously and masterfully the writers wove together all the different characters and narratives.

The film is visually stunning and audacious. There are moments where you feel like you’re completely watching a different genre of film. There hasn’t been a Marvel film yet that could inspire such visual sense of awe.

Musical scores are complex and perfectly captures the valiant but seemingly futile efforts by the heroes, the bittersweet moment of the small victories, and the most complicated emotions portrayed yet by the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

So.

If you’re a fan of Marvel films in any sense—hardcore or casual—do yourself a favor and watch this film. If you’re a fan of writing, I’d recommend watching all the Marvel films and then watching this one to truly appreciate how deftly the writers wove the tales together, bring to life the flavors of each franchise, and still make it as much of an organic movie experience as this film was.

Go buy the tickets now. It’s worth it.

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Is this the greatest film ever made or even in the Top 50?

No.

And it’s not trying to be. But Marvel has shown that it’s best at what it does and squishes any hope DC films had of having their own entity in this space.

You want humor? You got it.

You want serious? You got it.

You want dark? You got it.

You want heart? You’ll choke on it.

This may be the only Marvel film so far that I’d consider seeing again in theaters. Perhaps, on the IMAX this time around. Maybe even give 4DX ago again if there’s a version available.

[ 8.5 / 10 ]

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SPOILERS REVIEW AHEAD


We will keep it short here.

One of the best aspects of the film is obviously how the film’s narrative can be seen in two different ways. It’s the story about the Avengers and/or it’s a story also about Thanos. In fact, the movie begins with Thanos and ends with him.

It’s a bold and creative way of establishing a villain that’s been only hinted throughout all the previous films over the years. Arguably, he’s earned the space of having his own film given the presence he’s had looming in the shadows of all the films in the past. He’s the most intriguing and humanized villain MCU has had yet and there are moments where the audience can genuinely connect with the Mad Titan.

My only concern going forward is that the writing has put them in such a hole that they may not be able to dig themselves out of it without some copout or cheesy solution to all these problems.

AKA most likely Magic + Time Stone. But given how impressively they accomplished a film of this magnitude, the writing team deserves our faith in them.

 

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“Thanos! I’ve come to bargain!” It was cheesy in his own film as well.

 

While there were other few problems I think the script had regarding forced action scenes, action scenes that didn’t make sense within the logic of the film’s universe, characters acting not like themselves but acting based on what the plot demands, and etc. But these are, ultimately, pedantic problems given what the film has accomplished.

I’ll personally be very sad to see it all end next year. I can’t imagine the next phases of Marvel Cinematic Universe having the same amount of wonder and grandiosity.

Nerd Talk

  • Alright, we understand Thanos is the Mad Titan, but why does he actually think his ideas make sense? It becomes established that he was some sort of a figure in an advanced society that people would actually listen and ostracize him for being mad (or he was that crazy homeless guy). If you suddenly take away half the population from a planet, more than likely their societies will collapse. I guess technically that’s okay with his logic?
  • How does Thanos maintain the economy of his armada? Are there no single galactic police patrol What was Thanos’ plans after succeeding? Watching the Sunsets and then doing what his army?
  • I was truly hoping to not see a post credit scene with this one. It cheapens the wholeness of the experience. Especially by the fact that the post-credit scene was a hint to the next film in the franchise, and thus, sort of taking away the feeling of encased experience of an enclosed storyline.
  • Where’s Nova or the Nova Corp?
  • So did Captain America get an upgrade? How is he strong enough to handle Thanos’s heralds? How is he strong enough to hold back Thanos with the freakin’ Infinity Gauntlet?
  • I’m a sucker for those “good guy finally showed up moments” and was absolutely giddy like a child when Cap finally showed up.
  • So did Vision get a nerf? Are we just going to accept that the weapons… uh… blocks (?) intangibility? Can’t vision download all the fighting techniques around the world? And isn’t he supposed to have enhanced strength or whatever? And the laser beams?
  • Why is opening the barrier at Wakanda and bottlenecking the swarm a good idea to prevent the alien dogs from going around them? Why can’t the dogs just run around them once they make it in? They were seeming an endless swarm. And aren’t they worried about other threats that may potentially get in? What if they’re just overrun? No one tested these dogs in a fight. Does Wakanda not afford some sort of a drone that can watch the perimeter? Have some sensors? They have forcefields on a cape for heaven’s sake. What about those future jets they had to provide cover fire? What about some tanks? Wtf Wakanda? #WakandaForever
  • Thor had the worst of them all in this film. It’s heartbreaking seeing this film shortly after viewing Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Only weeks after his lesson, Thor proved that he is indeed a God of Hammers. Or hammer-axe in this case.
  • How’re Groot’s branches so strong anyways?
  • Why didn’t Thor take out the big threats right away after he joined the fight at Wakanda? Why the hell did he think it’s alright to let the rolly-tanks go all about and the heralds fight normal human beings?
  • Okay. I know we’re taught to aim for the torso. But is there a reason why Thor didn’t really have a concern about the gauntlet? It seems like he definitely could have at least stopped the snap. Are we just all supposed to accept these heroes let their emotions get the best of them?
  • Conveniently the original Avengers surviving is convenient.
  • Also, Thanos really underutilized the Reality stone after showing us exactly how powerful that stone was.
  • The scene with Gamora’s death was surprisingly emotional and did an incredible job of allowing the audience to finally connect with Thanos a bit on a human level. Even the cruelty of his actions added to his humanity. Arguably, the humanization begins when Gamora and Thanos begin to interact.
  • I’m okay with Red Skull the Soul Stone keeper. It’s a very comic book moment.
  • The scene with Nebula’s torture is a lot more gruesome than I anticipated from these films.
  • I wonder if they’ll ever add the Sentry as a storyline for the older audience. Most likely for Netflix or something. But not sure how they could portray him without movie budget.
  • Doctor Strange’s banter with Tony Stark was worth waiting for.
  • Peter Quill was more annoying than endearing in this film. The fact that he possibly ruined (or followed) Dr. Strange’s plan was a bit infuriating as it seemed too obvious it was going to happen and felt a bit forced. We’re coerced to understand humans act very erratically when they hear their loved ones die. We get it. But I could also see Peter help to get the gauntlet off sooner to beat Thanos with it.
  • What the f— was Thanos doing for 2 years? What grand schemes? He just brute forced this whole shebang. And it becomes established in the films that he had his armada for quite a long time. The gauntlet was also made not too long before this film since it had to have happened during Ragnarok.
  • Loki’s death, while setting quite the tone for the film, felt a bit forced.
  • He’s probably coming back to life.
  • On that note, some of the jokes in the film were too on the nose.
  • Dr. Strange really underperformed the fight against Ebony Maw.
  • Dr. Strange was very anime against Thanos.
  • Thanos dropping the moon was one of the coolest scenes I’ve seen in these films.
  • Iron Man’s new suit was very anime. How far we’ve come from Iron Man 1.
  • It was really hard to keep up with the names of the Black Order.
  • I ended up just calling them heralds, to those of you who were wondering, because Thanos is basically acting as Galactus of this universe so far.
  • Finally, the film essentially broke itself when it established that portals can indeed cut off limbs.

Writing Scraps: Short Story #1

Where 
Reddit’s /r/Writing

When 
04/04/2018

Why 
Some contest

What
[Prompt]
“Take an event from history and write a fictional account describing a conspiracy theory about what “REALLY” happened. Or, if you prefer, write a scene about a character who believes in one or more conspiracy theories.”

[Word Count Limit]
500

How
Found out about the contest around 6:00PM PST on 04/04/2018… the day the short story was due was…. at 8:00 PM PST 04/04/2018

[Time] 
Around 90 minutes.

[Word Count]
500 Words, cut down from around 680.

Started from a Lee Harvey Oswald bit to this:


Untitled

Down the Highway 285, just about when drivers would think they’re in the middle of nowhere, there was a diner. It looked like an old chrome box and during the day it glistened under the blistering sun and at night it lit itself up with the bright red neon sign on its roof that simply read: “DINER”. They figured no one cared about the name of the place.

It’s 1969. The time was 1 AM.

Jim sat at his table with his coke bubbling through the ice cubes. He scratched his head with its crew cut and pushed his thick black-rimmed glasses back on to the top of his nose with his index finger. He opened his mouth to speak to the lanky man in his fancy suit and matching fedora before closing it to gather his thoughts again.

“I’m telling you it’s all true, Jim,” the man in the fancy suit said. “All those people who’ve told you that you were mad… they were wrong.”

“But…” Jim still couldn’t find exactly what he felt was wrong.

“How long were you searching for us?”

“…for 23 years. Jesus. That’s two wives and three children.” Jim sat back a bit and sipped on his coke.

“I’m here to tell you that we’re real,” The man gave Jim a kind, comforting smile.

The man removed his fedora. Four green tendrils shyly poked above his thick, black hair. He then pointed his finger at his forehead where a third eye opened stared at Jim’s reluctant face.

“What is it, Jim? What’s wrong?” The man asked.

“You can’t be real,” Jim said sternly.

“I’m sorry?”

“I’m saying, where’s the MIB? The boys in the shadows? The Men in Black?” Jim tried to keep his voice down. “How can I be speaking to you right now?”

“I don’t… think they’re real.”

“They’re not real?! Ha! Then what’s the government using the tobacco industry for? What’s Vietnam for? Think man! Think!”

“I…” Worried about the commotion, the man retracted his tendrils and put back on his fedora.

“Do you really think that the government would let aliens just walk around willy-nilly? Talk to us? Let them observe us? Bullshit! That’d be utter chaos! What’s the point of paying taxes then!”

“I have… I don’t know.”

“Then who’s propagating this idea that Earth is round, man?! And that “moon” landing a week ago? Come on!”

“Earth… is round.”

“Earth. Earth is round,” Jim groaned. “Jesus Christ. I don’t know who put you up to this but they at least need to do better homework.”

“You boys okay?” The waitress asked.

“Yeah,” Jim stood up. “And he’s getting the check for wasting my time.”

Jim put on his jacket and his fedora. With his briefcase clenched tightly in his hand he walked out to the cold, desert night.

He lit a cigarette and looked up into the sky. The vast black canvass of endless stars, mysteries, and other lives.

Someday, Jim told himself. Someday he’ll find the truth.


 

Well. There it is.

That’s the copy and paste of the story. A direct link HERE. There’s a lot of great other submissions to read as well so make sure to check out the whole thread if you click on that link.

In the end, while I had a lot of fun writing this story I wasn’t entirely happy with it. But it was good to write something from beginning to completion again and I submitted it regardless.

 

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Sometimes, I just want to say hello

There’s a thought.

An ephemeral inclination—a diminutive self-jest—that prods me to walk up to a stranger and say hello. Hello. How’s your day? Your week? Your life?

What makes you smile?

What ails you?

Who are you?

Or the seductive temptation to give in to the lack of better self-preservation to smile and say hello to those who were crazy enough to attempt my inclinations with me.

We’re all human, I remind myself when I begin to see people just as walking paintings of a person. In those clothes, in those jobs, and in those moods.

We’re all connected by the reality that binds us. Part of that being that we’re bound as species. Even if the lenses we view all of this might be different.

Most of us want to be happy. Have reasons to smile.

When did the some of us lose that?

Most of us feel love. Have that, that, metaphysical warmth that transcends mere physical contact when hugging someone.

Why were some of us born without that?

Most of us are lonely when we realize the zoo we’ve made ourselves is indifferent and everchanging as much as the universe it’s in regardless of our own dispositions.

What made so many of us simply accept that as just a fact of life?

Sometimes, I just want to hear their stories. I’ve wondered if it was for curious amusement or for a reminder of that connection all human beings should have with one another. A proof of a sort that life isn’t so unique and isolated.

I remember an old man who spoke to me for hours about his life. How he was a sailor when he was young. Found joy in fighting. Found love in a foreign land. He frequented the cafe where I sat and listened to his story. Most of the workers thought he was a crazy old man. I don’t know why he decided to speak to me. He told he was an accomplished professor now slowly dying of a disease. He told me never to get old if I can help it. Near the end, he told me his wife had passed away recently and I saw deep loneliness in his eyes. The helplessness of knowing what was exactly next but not knowing what the road would be like until he gets there.

After about 3 hours of conversation, I asked the old man for his name as I wanted to bid him a proper farewell.

He looked at me as if I was mad for asking for his name. As if I had broken some sort of an unspoken, sacred oath. A venerable rule.

“Why?” The old man asked.

There was half-a-second of empty silence.

“Thank you for your time and for the conversation,” I told the nameless old man and offered him a handshake.

He gave me an unenthusiastic, socially-coerced handshake and walked away.

And I never saw him again.

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Frayed: a Quick Review of Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi

I’m sitting in front of my computer at 3:30 AM, fresh out of the theaters after watching the latest film of the franchise that had me captured since I was a young boy.

But I can’t tell you the reason for why I decided to share my thoughts before warning you, and I feel the need to warn you as a fan, in big bold caps-locked letters:


DO NOT READ THIS ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM YET


 

This isn’t simply because of SPOILERS… though there will be a plenty of that I imagine. I’m just writing this as I go.

This is because regardless of my review being positive or negative if you’re a Star Wars fan, you have to see this film without being tainted in any way. Otherwise, it’d be doing injustice to everything this film is trying to accomplish.

Despite its flaws and regardless of fan’s approval, this is a revolutionary film for the Star Wars franchise.

The Last Jedi, not only introduces profound lore elements to Star Wars universe, but also as a film it introduces a new style, tone, mechanics, writing, humor, and even further modernization to the franchise than they did with Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens.

However, as revolutionary as this film is, I couldn’t help but get up from my seat  at end wondering how much of the film I actually enjoyed and how much of it… annoyed me. Some reasons I knew why right away but some other I had the chew over on my drive home through the empty freeway in the wee hours of cold December morning.

Anyways. This is a quickie so it’s just me vomiting my thoughts right after the movie. So I ask for your generous understanding for any errors ahead.

The Quick and Dirty

While The Last Jedi may be revolutionary to the franchise in more ways than one, it tries to do too much for a single film and struggles to find a satisfying and perfect execution for most of its endeavors.

It doesn’t leave you with a feeling of witnessing a triumphant victor, but rather, the  feeling of awkward silence of witnessing someone try too hard for too long on stage… and you don’t know when to clap or what to clap for exactly even though you’re pretty sure you’ve enjoyed the overall experience.

CONS

As mentioned, execution of certain elements of the film feels a bit dissatisfying or unfinished.

One that really comes to mind is Kylo’s development as a character. The film does such a wonderful job giving depth to the character for the first two acts, that it’s incredibly disappointing and frustrating for him to become basically an unreasonable villain suddenly in the third act. It felt cheap.

The pacing felt off and because of so many branching sub-plots, the film felt like watching a miniseries rather than a film.

One of the biggest culprit to the pacing is the unnecessary insertions of comedic scenes and kind of “post-Marvel” vibe the film has. Y’know? Like how most Marvel seems can’t take itself seriously so sometimes it’s hard to feel what’s at stake? But it feels more annoying with this film because the tension and magnitude of the greater plot moments are so high that when certain lighter moments, or lesser interesting subplot moments, intrude… it feels like a sudden car crash.

That’s not to say that those scenes are not funny nor that they were always out of place. But many times they felt frustrating and made the film unnecessarily longer than it needed to be.

The very kid friendly comedic relief scenes are a bit odd because it’s unnecessarily treats the entire audience as if they can’t handle any reasonable duration of drama and tension (and yes I understand the target audience is ultimately kids but…)… while some of its plot conveniences are bandaged by insisting to treat the audience with such amount of respect that it expects them to fill in all the holes.

Mentioning plot conveniences…

MIXED BAGS

There’s a recurrence in modern writing of asserting ‘you don’t have to give the audience what they want, you don’t have to tell them everything.’

Which is fine. I think stories can be incredibly enhanced that way.

The Last Jedi did this wonderfully in some regards.

Many audience members may have wanted Rey to have an epic moment regarding her parents and have her parents be some grand part of the Star Wars lore.

She got none of that and it was fantastic. She’s a better child of prophecy type than Anakin ever was.

Better insight into Snoke?

Nope. And that’s awesome.

But there were plot conveniences where it felt like the film was trying to treat it the same way and just comes off as lazy writing. Here’s the top 3 I can recall at the moment:

  1. After developing Snoke as this incredibly powerful being–whose powers include apparently being able to read into Kylo’s deepest thoughts and feelings and even reach out to Rey in similar ways–and just after him even proclaiming that he can see into Kylo’s thoughts and intentions… Kylo can just kill him by surprise like that? He couldn’t sense the lightsabre moving by the force? This is a moment where the audience is supposed to fill in the blanks by, “ahh, it’s because Snoke’s too arrogant” …but instead it just ends up feeling a bit silly and anticlimactic.
  2. Why didn’t the Resistance do the whole cruiser lightspeed kamikaze attack sooner? Or even bring that up for discussion? It seemed incredibly powerful attack. In fact, almost every ship that’s about to be blown up should just do this if they can. I guess this is the part where the audience is supposed to go, “ahh, it’s because had they attempted that sooner the First Order would have suspected something was up…?” But, why wasn’t the actual plan just explained to everyone in the first place? Even Poe would have been fine since he seems to know if there’s cloaking device the First Order wouldn’t know that they’ve escaped. Other than to teach Poe a lesson in being a leader rather than a hero later? Also, how did the girl on the bridge that helped Poe’s mutiny not know about the plan? And was the First Order really out of all TIE fighters or something to chase down the Resistance?
  3. While Luke’s final moments were epic, the execution of it left a bit of sour taste. His death was beautiful, respectful, and an incredible moment in the film. Possibly, one of the most beautiful moments in Star Wars history. But… it also feels like his death was only done because living-Luke had no place anymore in the plot and to keep up with the film’s theme of, “in with the new, gone with the old”.

For formatting reasons (to save your eyes), I’m going to continue my thoughts on Luke here.

Another problem with Luke’s death involves his epic showdown against the First Order.

It was awesome that Luke wasn’t actually there and it was sort of a Force clone of himself instead. It goes to show how incredible Luke became with his force powers and explains how Luke even got to that planet in the first place.

But his death takes away from the grandiosity of his powers because while Luke seemed like he took care of First Order with such ease and demonstrated to Kylo that the master still had his place… in reality the act killed him.

Fine. Maybe that’s just my personal bitterness towards making such a grand act gently a farce.

But the part that I think is a little hilarious is that Poe assumed there had to be an escape route because Luke got into the supposed enclosed building. Poe didn’t know that Luke was an illusion of sort.

I understand the idea is that Luke served his purpose of being “hope” that the Resistance needed.

But given that he was an illusion that appeared out of nowhere, Poe was incredibly lucky not to find those mineral foxes just holed up somewhere deeper in the chasms of the cavern after deciding that following one of those things must lead to how Luke got in.

And what was Luke’s plan exactly? He’ll bide time as the Resistance figure some way to escape? Did Luke know there was even a way to escape?

I guess this is another moment where we’re supposed to fill in the blanks as the audience that ‘Luke knew there was a way through the Force.”

Fine.

Another mixed-bag I had with the film is the further introduction of moral grays in the world Star Wars as we were introduced to in Rogue One.

We find out that vilified weapons dealers who’ve sold weapons to First Order are also the ones selling weapons to the Resistance.

The point of which loses a lot of his sharpness because not only did we just see Finn and Rose probably maim a few of those people and destroy their city (their whole mission feels like a joke at the end) but also because Star Wars makes you feel like the galaxy is a large place and yet not at the same time…

Basically, these weapons dealers are just business people who don’t want to get involved in these political feuds and just continuing on with their business.

Some sort of moral point feels a bit muddied up because it just seems like a statement of fact of sort that business people will do business and we don’t know if they have any reason to be involved in these political feuds other than the fact the film told us that they should care… even though with the introduction of these groups of people and planet… it doesn’t seem like they have to?

Because it sort of could imply that even Snoke had to rub shoulders with the rich and the business folks to get supplies for the First Order?

And it doesn’t help that the film establishes with such ferocity that Resistance is the good guys that it further muddies up what the moral point exactly is supposed to be.

Yes, I get that it supposed to introduce that the world is gray… but unlike Rogue One, it doesn’t even go anywhere with that in this film. The film continues from that little moral statement to demonstrating that First Order is bad, the guy who introduced the moral gray is a dick, and Resistance is struggling and must survive and is supported by all the protagonists.

PROS

I’ve alluded some pros above and I’ll leave those at that.

The action scenes are probably the best it’s ever been in a Star Wars film.

While I didn’t think the whole “arms trade” moral conundrum was done very well, it was still a nice development of Star Wars universe’s morality.

For the first time in Star Wars, the relationships that developed between characters felt complex and organic.

It felt human.

The relationship between Kylo, Rey, Finn, and Rose became surprisingly convoluted, intimate, and mature.

That little look Rey gives to Rose near the end of the film is so hauntingly teasing for what Rey’s feelings must be.

Oh, and the little boy watching the stars at the end, while felt a bit forced of why he’s even in the film in the first place, was a great touch. Not only for demonstrating the theme of the film, but also making the audience feel that Rey and Kylo are also just part of this cycle as Luke and Snoke was.

Anyways. My thought puke seems to be running dry and my eyelids are getting heavier and heavier. I think it’s time for me to take a nap before starting my day.

Oh, and the broken lightsaber was a nice touch as well.

Good night all.

Final Score: 7/10

 

Happy New Year! Quick Review of Movies / TV Series I saw in 2016!

Happy New Year!

2016 is almost over (thank god) and 2017 is right around the corner (for some of you it‘s already 2017)!

I thought it might be fun for me to do a quick & dirty review of all the movies/TV I watched this year! Just a head’s up, not all of them are stuff that came out in 2016.

But before we get started! To celebrate the New Years both of my books are FREE today & tomorrow!

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Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian (New Adult Contemporary Fantasy Reader’s Favorites called: “… a page-turner full of action and adventure.”)

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Chronicles of the Otherworld (An experimental Dark Fantasy Novella that’ll twist and turn your perceptions for the genre)

With that out of the way, here we go! …Hopefully, I don’t forget any.

Star Wars: Rogue One ( 2.5 / 5) – Inconsistent. Perhaps the one of the most iconic Star Wars scene at the end. Certain questionable dialogue choices. Not sure why they chose to do what they did with the characters as it was unnecessary. Final moments of the movie after the famous Vader scene also makes little sense when we really think about it.

Star Trek Beyond ( 3 / 5) – Not sure about the pacing. Villain made little sense. Action sequences were done better in the previous films.

Captain America: Civil War (3 / 5) – Another fun Marvel film. Winter Soldier was a better film since it at least felt different than the typical formula Marvel films have been following since Iron Man. The moral debate between the two sides is weak and unconvincing. [SPOILER] Weak ending where nothing that matters was lost at the end.

Dr. Strange (2.5 / 5) – Tried to do too much with the first movie. Benedict is likable as Strange. Forgettable villain with convoluted motives. The big baddie at the end is a bit puzzling considering his place in the comics. The end fight itself borders between corny and clever. One of the best post-credit “Marvel teasers.”

Batman v Superman  (2 / 5) – Too scattered. Too inconsistent. Plot doesn’t even make sense within its own logic. Snyder seemed to have pieced together moments instead of creating a film. While the actor was great, how they decided to portray Lex Luther felt like a mistake by the end. MARTHAAA

Finding Dory (3.5 /5) – Very heartfelt as to be expected from Pixar. Bigger emotional punch than Finding Nemo. Jumped the shark a bit at the end.

X-Men Apocalypse ( 2 / 5) – Very meh especially considering how impressive the preceding film was. Nothing groundbreaking, nothing really interesting, Apocalypse was surprisingly a boring villain. Gets pretty cheesy near the end.

Zootopia (4 / 5) – Funny, witty, creative, and I’d love to live in Zootopia. It handled the message it wanted to send well for what it was. Nick Wilde is also a great character.

Hell or High Water (4.5 / 5) – Just watch it. Wonderful neo-western with a compelling story and pacing. One of the most intense and clever standoffs I’ve seen in a western during the final moments of the film.

Sicario (4 / 5) – Just watch it. Especially if you liked Hell or High Water.

Moana (2.5 / 5) Some of the most beautiful visuals I’ve seen in a Disney Film. Best female Disney character to date. A bit Miyazaki-esque. Songs were generally a miss for me. The song by Lin-Manuel Miranda, however, is brilliant. Very weak ending.

Sky Rising ( 2 / 5 ) A bit too in-your-face with metaphors and symbolisms. Lacks certain Magic and nuance that Miyazaki films tend to have. Pacing is too slow. Unnecessary romance that made no sense and wasn’t even biographical. Voice acting by Hideaki Anno was mostly a miss for me.

Swiss Army Man (4 / 5) – Surprisingly thoughtful and touching. Never thought fart & sex jokes can take a movie so far.

Sausage Party (1 / 5) – Dumber than you think it’d be. People will tell you that “it’s just not your type of movie” or “you just didn’t get the jokes” when you tell them you didn’t like it. It sucked. I wanted my money back.

Corner Gas the Movie ( 3 / 5) – If you’re a fan of the show, it just feels like an extended episode… but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Caché (4 / 5) – Sometimes a bit too much with the message it wants to send (sometimes too subtle, sometimes too blatant) but it’s one of those films for film students. Masterfully filmed. Each shot has a purpose. Engrossing story.

Winter’s Bone (4.5 / 5) – If anyone wants to see Jennifer Lawrence’s acting chops this is a good film to do it with. Powerful and an organic film. Watch it.

Hail Caesar! (4 / 5) – Coen brothers film for all ages (?). Celebrates film industry while also poking fun at it. Charismatic, colorful, and whimsical.

Penny Dreadful (TV)
S1 : (3.5 / 5) – Promising and refreshing. Someone give Eva Green an award.

S2: (4 / 5) – Awesome though the second half of the season is a bit corny. Someone give Eva Green an award.

S3: (2/5) – This would be 1/5 if it wasn’t for Eva Green and Rory Kinnear. The ending is absolutely atrocious. Build up to the ending is horrendous. Rare moments where I felt my time was wasted starting this series. But, seriously, someone give Eva Green an award.

Fargo (TV)
S1: (5/5) – Tight writing, great pacing, memorable characters. Lester is a fascinating character to watch as he twists and turns through the series. Lorne Malvo is basically Chigurh but that’s not such a bad thing and Fargo brings a brilliant Coen brother feel to the force-of-nature character.

S2: (5/5) – As good as, if not better, than S1 but it’ll definitely depend on the audience. It has more “whimsical” elements to the plot that may turn off some viewers–even the fans of S1. And the vibe of the story is essentially different than the S1 as well. It’s more heartfelt and builds much bigger investment into the characters. Every actor is memorable in their own, unique ways. The dialogues are more subtle and also more profound, insightful, uniquely tailored, and at times even haunting.


I think that’s all?

Anyways…

Best Thing I Watched This Year

Fargo season 2.jpg
FARGO Season 2

Runner-up: Hell or High Water / Winter’s Bone

Worst Thing I Watched This Year

sausage-party

Runner-up: Penny Dreadful Season 3


That’s it! Maybe I’ll do books sometime soon as well!

But for now… Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! And I think I speak for all of us when I say…

“PLEASE BE GENTLE WITH US 2017!”

ARAMIRU OUT! 


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Merry Christmas 2016!

Merry Christmas!

Jingle bells are ringing!

Uncles are drunk and raging!

I’m outside with a bat and sending snowmen’s heads flying!

And the neighborhood children are crying!

The police are coming?

Hope everyone’s having a lovely holiday and if you’re in Japan hope you got your bucket of KFC.

My first novel, Black Halo: the Witch & the Guardian will be FREE today for anyone who wants it as my Christmas gift to my readers!

CLICK HERE to get your copy of the Contemporary Fantasy that Reader’s Favorite has called”…a page-turner full of action and adventure.”

ARAMIRU JINGLING OUT! 


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Preview: Chronicles of the Otherworld

Hello Everyone!

Here’s an early preview of my upcoming new project: Otherworld Chronicles: Season 1. A dark fantasy novelette that’ll be made available via Amazon Kindle.

Details regarding this project will be the subject of my next blog post!


Episode 0

ANTON’S SHORT STORY

 

It’s not the calm before the storm but the silence after that gets you.

Facing the aftermath of the carnage, the destruction, and the judgment.

Don’t be fooled by all the wood and stone that make up the mansion. All still in its place. Undamaged and clean. Nor by the oil lanterns still bright, burning, and hot. The walls tell that real tale. Painted with blood and guts.

Anton thinks he can outrun it.

Outsmart it.

Get off the destined path he set upon since who knows when. He doesn’t even know.

He tries to calm himself, but without the screams of his friends, he can finally hear his own heartbeat.

Take a peek, Anton.

Not much else you can do.

Weapons without their masters scattered across the hall.

All of them dead by the same cause.

Blunt trauma to their heads. Crushed like summer melons.

The butchered brains and pools of blood, too hard to tell whose body produced what.

His signature.

The man in the black armor. His face hidden behind the helm with a plume formed by long crimson lights that gently danced behind him like whips. Affectionately named, “Redtails.”

Anton snaps back behind his wall, wishing desperately he had learned a spell or two.

I don’t deserve this. Anton tells himself. Fuck this.

We rarely get what we deserve. But there’s comfort in the idea that what happens to us has nothing to do with what we deserve.

Because by that same rule, Anton might even survive.

From his pocket, Anton pulls out the magic from his own world. A pocket revolver. He doesn’t remember what the brand is or even what caliber it uses. It wasn’t his. He had snatched it from his brother’s drawer before he came back to this world.

He swings around with the gunpowder courage and aims the weapon at the approaching storm.

Redtails doesn’t stop.

“Fuck you,” Anton screams at him. “FUCK YOU!”

A silent soldier on a march. That was his answer to Anton.

Make them count. He says without words.

 

 

 

Bang.


 

 

Bang.

 

Bang.

 

Bang.


 

 

Anton stops for a moment and lets the smoke clear.

 

 

 

Redtails is closer.

 

 

 

Bang.


 

 

Only a little further than an arm’s length away now.


 

 

Bang.

 

 

 

The black knight allows the lips of Anton’s gun to kiss his helm.

 

 

 

Click.

 

 

The knight gently taps his dark, steel club on Anton’s forehead once…

“Look.” Anton takes off his glove and shows the back of his left hand. There was the red, almond shaped insignia that seemed as if it was tattooed onto his flesh.

…twice.

“I’m from our world,” Anton says. “You’re one of us, right? You have to be one of us. Come on, man.”

It wasn’t Anton’s fault that he didn’t know this was another one of Redtails’ signatures. There wasn’t anyone alive who knew about it. A gentle ritual he performed every once in a blue moon when the circumstances were just right. He had to be in the mood for it.

This is the silence after the storm.

Redtails swings his club.

A clang.

Sounds almost like a home run. As if Barry Bonds himself was on the plate.

It’s in tune with the crack of the shattering skull.

Then an almost immediate follow-up performance of the loud splatter on the wall.

Almost a cartoonish noise.

Anton’s body drops.

No more Anton.

No more questions of whether or not he deserves it.

Just silence.

Silence without judgment or concern.


 

ARAMIRU OUT!

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Frayed: Review of Star Wars Episode 7

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens

A very quick review of the film after I just finished watching it in the theaters. Straight from the head, the gut, and my bladder that held on for more than an hour. No edits, real talk!

3 / 5

Maybe 3.5/5. I’ll definitely watch it again when I can since you need to watch a film more than once to get a proper assessment of it.

The score I give is a bit misleading since the movie isn’t bad. Actually, if anything, it made me really excited for Episode 8.

I didn’t watch the movie and think, “huh, why did they do that?” or “why didn’t they do this?” Rather, I thought, “they’re trying very hard to make this exposition chapter of the trilogy really exciting and not bloated while keeping it as informative as possible.

Because that’s exactly what it was. The movie was a great introduction to the trilogy while trying to remain as wholesome as it can be on its own. But due to how much it wanted to… HAD to introduce us, the pacing was inconsistent and it did feel a bit too packed.

And by the way, people freaking out about spoilers–don’t worry. There are no real spoilers in this movie. They made it a point to not have a “big reveal” or to dramatically play up a mystery with a simple answer like that of a character’s identity.

This time, it doesn’t matter who’s behind the mask, what matters is WHY he’s behind the mask.

Fine. Simple Spoiler Alert:

Watch how quickly and anticlimactically Kylo Ren reveals his face beneath the mask in the film. It was as if J. J. Abrams wanted to shake the idea off from the audience that there will be a Darth Vader like mystery in this film. It’s not meant to be simple like that. Rather, it’s about learning these characters and how they got there because there won’t be three additional prequel movies to the two more movies coming out to explain all that. The films this time are about plot progression and development rather than big surprises to spike the plots… even more than before, they want us to really connect with these cast of characters.

Spoiler Alert Over.

It’s less about reliving the experience but rather giving the experience to the new generation with the modern updates and education.

The new cast of characters are great and it’s great to see they’re adding minority characters (whether by gender or race) into prominent roles and in roles that are really under portrayed by those genders and race in Hollywood.

BB8, the R2D2 replacement, or the magical fairy creature companion of Star Wars is incredibly endearing and has his own distinctive personality to help him standout to our old faithful droid.

Plot itself is a bit predictable, and at times felt purposefully so, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t interesting or engaging. I mean… were people really surprised what happened at the end? It was to the point where I kind of felt it was overplayed leading up to the predictable conclusion.

Another SPOILER ALERT? Ironic given what I said? But just to help people maintain their integrity of the film? In case I’m wrong and it does detract from the film that you know these things? Since everyone’s view experience is different?

Shorter dialogues would have made a greater impact I think.

Spoiler Alert Over.

But! Even if I could tell where the general direction was going and what surprises lied ahead, I still felt involved just to see HOW we got there and HOW the characters we met would react.

I’m not entirely sure if the former happened just because I’m a fan of Star Wars, but the latter is only really possible I think if the characters themselves proved worthy of an audience’s affection.

Want to keep this short so I’ll end on this final note that J. J. Abrams was amazing on not only giving this film a consistent Star Wars feel, but also very subtly adding his own flair to make it all feel fresh.

And because of all that was done to give this sort of a fresh start feel, this is a decent place to start if you haven’t seen any of the Star Wars films yet.

So oddly enough, even if I give this film 3/5 or 3.5/5, I highly recommend others to go see it not just for the experience but to be ready for the proceeding films ahead.

 

ARAMIRU OUT!

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Leftovers

  • It was great to see how they expanded on using the Force as a tool, as a weapon, and as an entity. This was long needed in the films.
  • Not sure if this is the “best” Star Wars film as some people are praising it to be. I think The New Hope did the “first chapter of trilogy” a bit better. But again, I might need a second watch.
  • The writing for the dialogues and character interactions were far more modernized and intelligent (compared to the prequel trilogy) that not only did they have personality but also felt grounded and human.
  • I always felt like the the saber fights in Star Wars was a bit off. For example, the famous fight in Phantom Menace threw me off a bit when it was clear that the combatants were specifically aiming for each other’s blades instead of body parts. Why? Why would you do that?The saber fights in The Force Awakens were far less flashy but they felt so much more organic that not only did they feel more “right” but also felt much more dire and engaging.
  • …Can’t talk about more without “spoilers” so I guess I’ll stop it here.