Bustin’ Makes Women Feel Good, Too

In the words of Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up The Sun”: I’m gonna tell everyone to lighten up.

1271033 - THE WALKSeriously. There’s a lot of hate that’s gone around for the Ghostbusters reboot, long before the movie was released in theaters, with the first trailer at one point being labeled the “most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history.” And while the trailers really weren’t as well made as they could have been (and neither was the 1984 Ghostbusters trailer; I did a comparison here), a lot of the hate seems to be about the fact that the Ghostbusters, this time around, are women.

The new Ghostbusters movie itself really isn’t bad. The humor is on-point, it’s consistently funny all the way through, the cast gels nicely, and they bring their own playful style to the film rather than attempting to mimic the cast of the original movies. So why have people gone into this movie wanting to dislike it?

Complaints about the movie not featuring the original cast would have some merit if most of the original cast didn’t participate in some way. It’s been known that Bill Murray was holding back for many years from doing a Ghostbusters 3, yet he’s here. Dan Aykroyd is here. Ernie Hudson is here. So is Annie Potts. So is Sigourney Weaver. They’ve all given this reboot their blessing by being in it. If the original cast is all okay with it, then why are some fans so upset about it?

Negative comments I’ve seen tend to say something to the effect of, ‘I’m sure the feminists are happy now.’ These types of comments stress that we’re living in a time now when feminists are taking over and pushing men aside. We see more movies with women at the forefront. We see Marvel comic book characters, the male versions, taking a break to allow female versions of those classic characters to take on those superhero roles, with a female Thor introduced some time ago and a black woman recently charged with slipping on the Iron Man armor in place of Tony Stark.

And to this, threatened males scream out in horror, cursing the feminists for “forcing” all of these companies to start featuring women in their sacred entertainment properties. Apparently, it’s okay when men have the power and are in control, pushing aside women, but disrupt the status quo in the slightest way by giving women some power and suddenly the world is being brought to an end at the hands of those damn “feminazis” and the “social justice warriors.” Damn them all and their damn desires for social justice and equality.

But really, considering the fact that for all of these decades, women have basically been able to only watch men in those lead roles, isn’t the gentlemanly thing for men to do now is to step aside and let women have a crack at those lead roles? Wouldn’t that be kind of, sort of, maybe a fair thing to do? Don’t fathers want their daughters to grow up seeing that women are just as capable as men?

Personally, I had no problem watching women not being objectified as they take on the roles of the Ghostbusters, with Chris Hemsworth – a muscular man’s man – being the ditzy, eye-candy secretary. Not only is Chris a wonderful comedic actor, but he shows how secure he is in his manhood by taking on such a role, a role that a woman would normally fill for a movie featuring men, a role that men typically have no problem with as long as a woman is in it.

And that’s really what I think we’re dealing with here when we see so much hate being shot out at a movie reversing the gender roles: insecurity.

Why can’t women be in the lead roles normally associated with men? Why can’t men be in the supportive roles normally associated with women? With how many decades have gone by with women supporting men in various forms of entertainment, what’s so wrong with turning the tables and having men support women for awhile, or at least in a more equal ratio? After all, it’s only entertainment. So lighten up a little bit, guys. Girls just wanna have fun. 🙂

By the way, if you want to see a cool role reversal, focus your eyes on the below video featuring Pauline saving Mario from Donkey Kong. This is a marvelous gift that a father made for his daughter.

May The Power Protect This Movie

Every time I hear a new nugget of information about the upcoming Power Rangers film, no matter how shiny that nugget is, I can’t help but to retain a bad feeling about the movie.

My feeling tells me that it’s either not going to turn out good or it’s going to disappoint at the box office. The latter is quite easy to explain. Power Rangers is being released on March 24, 2017, a week after Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, and I think there will be much more excitement for Beauty and the Beast, even in its second week. It’s undeniable that Disney is simply a juggernaut at this point, much more so than Wolverine, which is the movie (Wolverine 3, rated R and releasing March 3, 2017) I would’ve put Power Rangers up against. But that’s a lingering question for me. Why release a movie in Disney’s tremendous wake rather than before? Remember what happened to Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip when it released against Star Wars: The Force Awakens? Oh, you didn’t even know that a fourth Alvin movie was made? Exactly.

Power Rangers (2017) - new uniforms
Get ready, Rangers, as you face a real beast this time: Disney! They almost destroyed you once.

It could be that the studio behind Power Rangers, Lionsgate, has about as little confidence in the movie as I do and just wants to bury it behind a more-powerful film as an excuse for why it’s not going to be terribly successful. But if that’s the case, then why even make the movie in the first place?

Perhaps they were sold on the pitch. And maybe someone told them that they could possibly get Bryan Cranston involved since he did voice work for the original television show and may want to be in the movie for old time’s sake (they were right about that one; Cranston has recently been cast to play Zordon, the Rangers’ floaty-head leader).

Power Rangers (2017) - Rita Repulsa
Elizabeth Banks as Rita Repulsa, wearing so much green that she could almost pass for the Green Ranger.

Or maybe they were sold on the idea of a sort of reboot of Power Rangers, this time as a film franchise. A reboot featuring a new look, as we see with Elizabeth Bank’s Rita Repulsa. A reboot that has an adequate enough budget to give us robot versus monster fight scenes that look at least somewhat cool (I always loved the cheesy fight scenes in the show, though). A reboot that could carry on the Power Rangers legacy even if the show leaves the airwaves as it did once before when Disney, the former second owner of the Power Rangers property, ceased production of the show (it returned to television when Saban, the original owner, bought it back).

But whatever the case may be for taking another stab at a feature film treatment of Power Rangers, it’s all for not if the writers can’t deliver on the most important aspect of the film: the characters. With involving characters, along with actual character development, Power Rangers could end up being well worth watching even if the story is the same save-the-world stuff we get far too much of these days. I mean, seriously, when isn’t some evil force trying to destroy the world?

Power Rangers (2017) - EW cast photo
Ladies and gentlemen, the five people on all of Earth most qualified to fight off an evil tyrant with enough power to destroy the world. Did anyone else ever see the most glaring flaw in the concept of Power Rangers?

This, however, is where my bad feeling checks in. After all, big-time action film screen writers usually don’t seem to care much about writing solid characters. It’s all about a quick introduction and set-up followed by a story that’s only developed enough to justify the action scenes. Would it be too much for me to expect more than this, especially for Power Rangers?

I think the reason I want to keep thinking the movie is going to be bad is because I simply want to save myself the disappointment of when (or if) it actually does turn out that way. Lowered expectations, you know. I think that will help me to enjoy the film even if it’s of the quality I believe it’s going to be.

But who knows? The movie may end up surprising me. And even with my feeling being what it is, I am keeping an open mind. I mean, I’m already in love with the tone of the teaser poster.

Power Rangers (2017) poster

Bad Trailer Does Not Equal Bad Movie

I’ve been seeing a lot of negative stuff toward the just released trailer for the 2016 remake Ghostbusters. And just to be completely honest, I’ve been a part of that negative stuff. I mean, my first reaction to this trailer… well, let me put the video here first then let you in on my initial reaction.

After seeing this trailer, I thought about how much it strayed from the original 1984 film based on the opening lines of this trailer talking about how these women have a gift and that they’re the only ones who can do what they do. The original film was simply about a few scientists who discovered a way to contain ghosts and turn it into a business. I also thought about the ‘end of the world’ stuff in the trailer that really kind of turned me off because, well, when isn’t the world coming to end in a movie these days? The most glaring thing about the trailer, however, is the fact that I maybe let out a small laugh a couple of times. This trailer, like the previous one, had no big laugh moments in it. To put it mildly, I didn’t like this trailer and my view of the upcoming film was now colored because of it.

But then I read a comment from someone who mentioned that the original Ghostbusters trailer really wasn’t that good either. Of course, I had to check it out, and what I found was something strange in the neighborhood of my mind.

After watching this classic trailer, I thought about how it strayed from the actual movie by pushing the Ghostbusters as the only people who can save the world. Not only that, but I only had a couple of small laughs while viewing this trailer. And the most glaring thing about this trailer is that it completely misses the feel of the movie, pushing the Ghostbusters as badasses rather than as average people who stumble into an extraordinary situation that they’re just not sure that they can handle.

My point is that my comparison of the new film versus the original, at this moment, is solely based on the entire classic film versus a trailer (or two) of the remake. That’s not entirely fair, don’t you think? And if I did judge the original movie based on its trailer alone, I’d have to have the same reaction to it as I’ve had with the trailers for the 2016 version, which isn’t at all positive.

So I have to wonder now if history is repeating itself. With this new Ghostbusters, are we just getting bad trailers for what’s going to be a good film? Trailers, even though they’re supposed to sell us on the movies they’re advertising, sometimes don’t do their job so well, for whatever reason. This is why I use trailers to establish a level of interest, but don’t fully judge a movie based on its trailer (unless it completely spoils the film; see: Batman v Superman trailer 2). At least, I try not to judge. Admittedly, I did go into that territory upon watching the new Ghostbusters trailer. But having seen the trailer for the 1984 film, I now have a different perspective on the remake, one that won’t be fully formed until after I see it. Hopefully, history repeats itself and I’ll love this film too.

But even if the new Ghostbusters doesn’t hold up to the original, there’s really nothing wrong with simply enjoying it for what it is, whatever it ends up being, that is.

You’ll Love Wonder Woman, Trust Me

If you’re looking for a fun take on Batman v Superman, look no further than the below video from Nostalgia Critic. Featuring YouTube gaming personality Angry Joe, these two do a wonderful job of breaking down, in their opinions, where the critically-pounded superhero film went wrong. But they don’t do their thought-sharing in a dry, boring way; rather, they perform comical reenactments of certain scenes from the movie while discussing their points with a hilarious rendition of the film’s director, Zack Snyder.

All in all, after watching this little more than 20-minute video twice, I feel like the views of Nostalgia Critic and Angry Joe are actually very fair, not coming off as hateful, but instead simply showing how, as comic fans who have waited so long to see Batman and Superman on the big screen together, the disappointment they feel toward the movie is justified.

So whether you love or hate Batman v Superman, or are just middle-of-the-road or middle-of-the-finger on it, give the below video a play. Even if you disagree with them, I doubt you won’t laugh out loud along the way.

The Difference Between “Good” and “Enjoyable,” or, My Obligatory Batman v Superman Aftermath Post

Whether or not you were disappointed by or excited about this past weekend’s runaway success Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, one thing is probably certain: you’re talking about it. If you’re in the former category of those not terribly captivated by the film, then it may be likely that you’re running into the latter category of people who feel it’s their duty to defend the honor of their beloved to their dying breath, especially if you’re running into those people through the magic of the internet.

Over at rottentomatoes.com, the movie is holding a whopping 29% rating with critics, and it’s clear that there are problems with the film. However, talking to fans, you probably wouldn’t know that. I’ve read conversations in which fans swore that the story was deep, the characters were well-written, and that any accusations of the movie being “overstuffed” came from haters who simply didn’t understand what was going on in the film because they weren’t paying attention. They say that Batman v Superman was a good movie.

Personally, I don’t think that people who say they liked the movie are wrong. Batman v Superman can be an enjoyable film. Heck, any film can be enjoyable, depending on who you’re talking to. I believe, though, that what fans tend to do is confuse the words “good” and “enjoyable.”

When we come out of a theater, having just seen a movie that has us thrilled to the bone about what we’ve seen, it’s so easy to throw out those four words, “That was so good!” In reality, though, the four words that would be more appropriate would be, “I really enjoyed that.”

Convincing yourself that something is good when other people can make a rational argument for why it’s lacking in key areas can lead one down the path of getting defensive, something I’ve seen from fans of many different movies (I don’t mean to pick on Batman v Superman here as there are other movies I’ve seen similar reactions with). Now, I do understand that film is subjective and, as a result, what’s “good” is also subjective, but I also feel that there is a point at which we can look at a film as objectively as possible and make judgments. If we couldn’t do that, then Michael Bay would have a case for being snubbed for a Best Picture nomination at the release of every new Transformers movie. Clearly, you can’t make a case for Transformers: Age of Extinction when you put it next to The Revenant.

On that same note, no matter how much you science the shit out of it, Guardians of the Galaxy will certainly never be on the same level as The Martian.

However, this doesn’t mean that movies like Batman v Superman, Transformers, and Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t enjoyable. Of course they are; the amount of money each film made proves how enjoyable audiences found these films to be. However again, that doesn’t make those movies good, it simply makes them enjoyable. What’s good about those movies and what isn’t good about those movies can and should be discussed rationally. There’s nothing wrong with that and there’s no reason anyone should get defensive when compliments aren’t heaped upon their favorite films.

In fact, I think it’s great to recognize what’s not so good about our favorite films. This is the very reason I bookmarked a YouTube playlist for Honest Trailers (which is where The Revenant video posted above came from). Personally, I like to find the flaws in the movies I watch. I like to pick apart Lex Luthor and think about how badly written he is. I like to ask people, “Whose idea was it to make both Lois Lane and Martha Kent obvious damsel in distress tropes?” I like to think about what could’ve been better and ponder how I would change it or approach it, the steps I would take to improve on those flaws, and also contemplate why I would make the changes I would make. I feel like understanding these things would contribute to making me better as a writer. After all, how do you know what’s good if you don’t understand what makes something bad?

All that said, pointing out the negative aspects of a movie shouldn’t in any way diminish the enjoyment you may get from it. There are plenty of movies I enjoy watching that I absolutely admit are horrible, the Resident Evil films, for example. But I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I would be one of the few people defending Underworld until my fingers couldn’t type any more. It wasn’t until I began to realize that my enjoyment of a film wasn’t affected by anyone’s opinion of it, or even my opinion of it, that I opened my mind enough to admit when certain aspects of it could’ve been handled better. It wasn’t until I started to separate the concepts of “good” and “enjoyable” that I calmed down enough to see things from a less extreme subjective view.

It’s okay to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of what we enjoy. It’s okay to point out the flaws in the films we watch. It’s okay to like a movie even if it’s bad. And it’s okay to admit to this. At least then, rather than stressing out over someone else not enjoying what we enjoy, we can simply watch an Honest Trailer and laugh about it.

By the way, they also do Honest Game Trailers, if you want to see games getting the “Honest” treatment.

Why I Care About Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Again

Last week, I wrote a piece on why I’m now disinterested in the upcoming film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. If for some reason you haven’t read that and are somehow actually interested in reading it before going any further here, click these other-colored words.

Yesterday, the first trailer for the sequel to 2014’s reboot of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film franchise, surprisingly called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, was released, likely to much ignorant and needless Michael Bay hate. This sequel, subtitled Out of the Shadows, represents a chance for the rebooted movie series to show how much fun it can be from the second romp out. If you haven’t seen the trailer, for your convenience, it can be viewed below.

Right out of the gate, I’ll admit that the trailer totally had me worried when it began like a Transformers: Dark of the Moon rip-off. Michael Bay’s influence is obvious here. But I don’t consider that a bad thing. The only complaint I really had about the above-mentioned Transformers outing is the way in which Starscream died. I would’ve loved to see Megatron blow him away. That could just be my incessant romanticism toward the 1986 Transformers animated movie, though.

Anyway, once past the rip-off portion of the new trailer, things kick up with the appearance of the Turtles in their van. Hey, who doesn’t love Run-DMC? And who doesn’t love a good chase scene? And who doesn’t love manhole covers being shot out at bad guys? Seriously, the moment I saw those covers flying out, I immediately thought of the Turtle Van toy that I’ll eventually resist buying. It also made me think about how much that scene didn’t make sense, but in a good way.

I mean, I wasn’t confused by the scene; it was totally easy to see what was going on. What didn’t make sense was this picture of four giant turtles driving around in a tricked-out van, shooting manhole covers from their grill, with not a single cop stopping them for being four giant turtles driving around in a tricked-out van, shooting manhole covers from their grill. Maybe the cops don’t care because the Turtles are green, not black.

But like I said, it didn’t make sense in a good way, and neither did the rest of this trailer. It seemed like it was haphazardly slapped together from whatever portions of the film were finished enough to be cut into a trailer and viewed by a wide audience. If we tear it down, we get an ominous opening, the Turtles tussling with some unidentified “bullies,” a man using hockey as a weapon, someone who looks to be Shredder, the long-awaited film debut of Bebop and Rocksteady, and a collage of scenes that include splashing in water and, of course, Megan Fox going all bare midriff on us, as if that’s something we haven’t already seen.

And while there was a sense of fun throughout this trailer, it seemed like a wasted opportunity to have this ominous opening and then play it straight until we get to the fun stuff rather than to crack a joke at the ominous opening, perhaps at the fact that, like I said, it’s a total rip-off of a certain other Michael Bay movie. It just felt like a rocky transition. I think some humor at the expense of the opening would’ve been a better way to segue to the fun nature of the remainder of the trailer.

And then there’s Casey Jones. I admit that I got some bad jitters the moment it was announced that Stephen Amell was cast in the role. He normally leads a cast of heroes as Oliver Queen in the CW television series Arrow. While I like Amell on television, I’m not sure yet if he can hold his own on the big screen and this trailer does nothing to allay my fears yet. In fact, and this is probably going to sound stupid, but I think he smiles too much in this trailer.

See? Sounded stupid.

My problem here is that I have another actor with whom to compare Amell, the Casey Jones from the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Elias Koteas. The thing I loved about Elias is that he really looked the part. He looked like a tough guy. He looked like he’s been through some scrapes. Not only that, but he acted like it, with his brazen attitude and willingness to arrogantly jump into a fight even when he knew he was likely outmatched. From what I can see in this trailer, Amell shows pretty much the opposite, seeming more like a hero for the younger kids rather than someone a slightly older audience and, as a realistic extension, adults might find enjoyable. But again, this is simply from what I’ve seen from, literally, seconds of a trailer, so I could end up being wrong on this one, and I hope I am. And again, my completely positive perspective on Elias Koteas’ portrayal of Casey Jones could simply be my incessant romanticism toward the 1990 TMNT classic film. I admit that I have a sort of rose-colored glasses way of looking at films I enjoyed while growing up, as it is with any other adult. Nostalgia, yo.

So with all of this what looks like complaining being said, you’re probably wondering why this post has a positive title to it. Well, like I said, this trailer didn’t make sense in a good way. The Turtles fighting bad guys while tossing out jokes was fun. Getting a small taste of their fight with Bebop and Rocksteady was way cool, especially that scene in which Rocksteady raises his arm to the firing of a tank cannon. And the subtle overacting the scientist guy was doing made feel like this movie wasn’t going to try to take itself as seriously as the first film attempted. These, I feel, were things that I found enjoyable about this trailer and really made me want to see this film.

I’ve loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles since their debut back in the 80’s. On their way up, I religiously tuned into their cartoon, played their video games, and watched their first two live-action movies. On their way down, I watched their third live-action movie, sat through their concert tour, and wondered if they were down for the count. Thankfully, though, the delightful 2014 reboot and this trailer for Out of the Shadows have truly rekindled my love for the Turtles. If each Turtle represented one of the four parts of my heart – we’ll call Michelangelo the left ventricle – then you could say that I have a heart of green. (You could also say that I have a hard shell around my heart, but let’s save my personal problems for another post.)

Not only that, but this trailer actually filled me with a sense of wonder, that sense we have when we’re kids, an innocent curiosity that made me ask questions whose answers I can’t wait to discover. Questions like: “Are those ‘bullies’ the Foot Clan?,” “Is that a new guy playing Shredder?,” and, “Did they really have to get a Canadian to play Casey Jones? I mean, what does hockey have to do with Canada?”

June 3, 2016 can’t come soon enough.

Why I Don’t Care About Batman V Superman Anymore

I’m going to be discussing the latest Batman V Superman trailer, which, I believe, contains a major spoiler. If you don’t want to know what it is, then don’t watch the newest trailer and certainly don’t read any further. However, if you do want to see the trailer, for your convenience, it is right below these words. Watch and read on…

I’ll be blunt: this was a terrible trailer. I’m sorry to say that because I so enjoyed the first two trailers. The first two trailers for the film were excellent in teasing without giving much away. This third trailer, though, gives everything away!

Why?!

Warner Bros., why did you spoil the movie for everyone? I know you’re trying to get people into the theater, but this is Batman and Superman on the big screen together for the first time; I guarantee you that butts were already in those seats before the big Doomsday reveal.

That’s right, Doomsday is in Batman V Superman. And you know what? That’s not what’s giving me an irked feeling right now. What’s got me seriously disappointed is that, with this big reveal, which is likely the major twist in the movie, I now feel like I’ve seen the movie. So why should I go to a theater and pay upwards of $7 or more now? What would be the point of that? Now I know that Batman fights Superman until Doomsday appears and then they team up with Wonder Woman to fight Doomsday.

That’s the movie.

And it’s spoiled now. Why? You took away the one thing that could’ve had me running out of the theater – after sticking around to see any post-credits scenes – screaming in excitement about how, “Doomsday was f***ing in it! Oh my God!” But now I don’t get to do that. Now I would likely leisurely stroll from the theater commenting, “Yeah, that went the way I thought it would.”

Seriously, would anyone have cared as much about The Sixth Sense if the trailers just gave away that Bruce Willis was dead?

Come on, Hollywood, if you’re going to bother putting a major twist into the film, something to shock and surprise the audience, don’t show it in the freakin’ trailer! That just makes me not want to see the movie now. Really, I don’t care anymore. Revealing too much is a total turn-off, something that will push people away from seeing your film.

You’re pushing away the potential word-of-mouth in which someone who has seen the movie gets all giddy about the major twist and tells their friends, “You’ve got to see this movie! There’s this thing that happens! And it’s awesome! You won’t believe it! You have to see it now!” Instead, that not-so-giddy-anymore conversation with friends will probably go more like this:

“The trailer gave away everything. You don’t have to rush out to see it. Redbox it, man.”

We saw this same thing happen with Terminator: Genisys. Okay, so the initial trailers were only not bad, but they weren’t terrible and likely drew some interest that was killed the moment they released the latest trailer for the film that gave away the major twist that John Conner was now a Terminator. That trailer made me feel the same thing I’m feeling now with Batman V Superman.

A trailer like this is like that annoying person you know who just comes in and tells you the major twist in a new movie (or TV show) before you’ve had a chance to see it, and they do it without even asking if you’ve seen it or care about spoilers. I mean, I would’ve had no problem with that Terminator: Genisys trailer or the new Batman V Superman trailer if they simply labeled it as a “Spoiler Trailer.”

Actually, what I would call it is a “Sign of Desperate Marketing Trailer.” This is the type of trailer you’d likely only see from a marketing strategy that is so desperate to get people into the theater that they’re willing to give away everything, saying, “Look! Look! Doomsday is in it! Come see the film!”

But they don’t need to do that. It’s Batman! It’s Superman! The previous Batman movies made tons of money. The previous Superman film was highly successful. There’s no way these two powerhouses, together in the same film, were going to tank at the box office. So why throw out a desperation trailer? Why?

And like I said, it’s a terrible trailer anyway, and what it actually does, for me, is it brings up a fear I had about the film becoming too crowded. When you put too many major characters into a film, characters who each need their own screen time to properly develop, you reduce that screen time for each character and essentially give their stories a rushed feeling while overwhelming the audience with too much that’s going on within a short time span.

A great example of this is The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Sony, the studio behind the film, wanted to make an epic movie and so stuffed the film with so many characters that it actually hurt the movie and made it seem like storylines were rushed along and lacking proper development. That’s my fear now with Batman V Superman. Judging from this latest trailer, it seems like Warner Bros. is making the exact same mistake, and that could hurt the film. And as great as the action may be, a story bursting with potential but fulfilling none of it is not something I want to witness, or at least, pay a good amount of money to witness.

I don’t only want to see great action; I want to see a great story with well-developed characters. They could’ve accomplished both with Batman, Superman, and Lex Luthor, and no one else. Think about what it would’ve been like to have a story centered around Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor teaming up to rebuild Metropolis after the Kryptonian attack and Bruce agreeing with Luthor that Superman is a threat and needs to be stopped, pushing Bruce to become Batman so he can go after Superman. Right there, you have Batman and Lex Luther on the same team! And Lex is played off as a good guy leading a world campaign against Superman! That alone would be so cool to see.

And that’s it. That’s all they needed. Those are the only major characters they needed. That’s the only story they needed. They only needed to ask one question: Can Superman be trusted? That’s it. That could’ve been the theme of the entire film with Bruce and Lex properly introduced and developed, with Superman continuing to be developed following the events of Man of Steel. They didn’t need anything more than that.

Sometimes, the simpler thing to do is the better thing to do. In this case, a simpler Batman V Superman film, at this point, early on in the DC Cinematic Universe, I feel would’ve been much better. No Wonder Woman (as much I love her). No Doomsday. No Lex Luthor becoming a crazy mad scientist in his very first DCCU film. Just Batman and Superman, and Lex on the sidelines encouraging the fight. That’s all we really needed. Sadly, we’re going to get so much more, to the unfortunate detriment of this film.

26 Things I Learned About Writing A Novel While Writing A Novel

*I am in no way claiming to be an expert on novel-writing. When I started, I had not a clue on how to do it or even how to approach it. I hope these lessons I’ve learned can help another writer who’s starting from the beginning.

Know your audience… but don’t write for them.

It’s important to know your audience as far as genre is concerned. Sci-fi and romance are genres written in different ways because they cater to different audiences. If you’re targeting an audience of romance, you don’t want to hit them with hard sci-fi; it’s not something that specific audience desires to read. That said…

In a general sense, when you write thinking about what the audience would like, you’re chasing the audience. And you don’t even know if they’ll really like what you think they’ll like. So don’t worry about the audience. Write for yourself. Write something you would enjoy reading. When other people read it, they may enjoy it as well. When that happens, your audience comes to you. In essence, write for yourself and let the audience chase you.

It’s difficult as all hell.

You will definitely feel challenged and maybe, at times, overwhelmed. It’s not like writing a short story in which the light at the end of the tunnel can be seen from the start of the tunnel. Not long into the process, you’ll find yourself in that dark tunnel with no apparent light whatsoever. This may push you to want to quit and just forget about it. But as long as you keep making progress, you’re chipping away at it bit by bit. Just keep chipping away, page by page, chapter by chapter. You’ll eventually see the light. Hopefully.

Patience is required.

Some days you get something, some days you don’t. You just got to roll with it.

You have to think in slow burns.

Unlike writing a short story, time must be taken to expand conversations and any little things that are happening. You can’t just jump into something or jump past it quickly. Details are a good thing to have and being detailed means that a scene is going to take a lot longer than you’d expect it to; maybe a whole chapter, perhaps. You really have to put a lot of thought into what’s going on and why. A story is crafted, not accidentally spilled onto the page. Okay, the first draft can be spilled onto the page, but that’s it.

You get to do fun things…

…like looking up the word “douchebag” on the Internet to make sure you’re spelling it correctly.

The battle is uphill.

At the start of writing a chapter, you’ll probably have bits and pieces of what you want to put in it, but at the same time you’ll have no clue how to start it. When that finally comes, it’s daunting thinking about all of the pages you have to fill; it’s like climbing up something high and looking down along the way when you really shouldn’t.

You will struggle.

There will come a time, or many times, in which you sit there and say, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m out of ideas. I got nothing left,” and you’ll want to just stop. But you can’t do that and you know you can’t do that because there is that other side of you, the voice in your head that sounds like the Mr. T of motivational speaking exclaiming, “I pity the fool who don’t keep writing!”

Am I the only one who hears Mr. T in my head?

The flood will likely come later.

It’s when you’re nearing the end of writing a chapter that you’ll look back on what you have and start getting more ideas for what you can add or what can be fixed. That’s the point when you start cursing anything out because… Why couldn’t all of this shit have come to me when I started?

In other words, writer’s block…

…is not what you think it is. If you find yourself constantly struggling to come up with something, let it go. When you start thinking you have writer’s block, you’re likely to begin over-thinking and trying to force things. That can lead to more frustration when you feel like you can’t come up with something or something you do manage to come up with falls flat. Let it go. Let it go. Sing “Let It Go.” Take your mind off of your writing. Writer’s block may just be your mind wanting to take a rest from doing all of that writing. Take your mind to the zoo or something. Feed the giraffes. Both your mind and the giraffes will appreciate that. Come back to your writing later. It can wait, and ideas will start coming to you again, in their own time.

Solid feedback is priceless.

If you’re not in a writing circle, get in one. Bother a few people with your novel, one chapter at a time, so they can give you some instant feedback on what you’ve written. Remember, whether someone loves or hates your work, it’s the ‘why’ that’s important. You may find you want to include more detail and explanation to clarify things, or the reader may be wading through too much detail and explanation and you’ll want to remove some of that so reading doesn’t become a chore. And make sure the feedback is of a good quality and isn’t just, “Hey, that’s great!” Why is it great? “Hey, that doesn’t make sense.” Why doesn’t it make sense? Questions and comments are a big help, especially those that make you reflect on what you’ve written so you can make good changes and find and fill as many of the plot holes as possible. You can also gather if people are getting the ideas and feelings you’re attempting to pass along. In short, quality criticism is always helpful.

No matter how carefully you plan it out, your story will have plot holes.

deal with it

If you listen close enough, your characters will talk to you.

As you’re writing, if you let your characters tell their stories, they’ll tell you things about themselves of which you weren’t aware. For example, when I was thinking of a name for a certain character, the name I got was Amy. At the time, I really thought her name was Amy. That is, until I was in a later chapter where another character informed me that it wasn’t her real name.

Wow, Amy never told me her real name. I just started calling her that ‘cause she kinda reminds me of me and ‘Amy’ totally sounds close enough to ‘Hey, me.’

Once I found this out, I asked her if she wanted to reveal her real name at the end of the story and this time she told me her real name. Yes, I am aware that I sound completely insane right now.

Music can help.

If you’re looking to focus on bringing out a certain emotion, listen to some music that brings out that emotion in you. More than likely, it’ll put you in the mood to write what you’re looking to write.

Setting a goal may be a worthless endeavor.

I’ve heard that it’s good to set a goal like, “Write 1,000 words per day.” I did, in fact, set this goal the first day I sat down to write my novel. The goal was punctured inside of said day. As I said before, things come when they come and they don’t when they don’t. If you’re not the type of writer who can sit down and write 1,000 words per day just ‘cause, forcing yourself to try to put something on the page is the fastest road to frustration. However…

Setting a structure is a big help.

When I sat down to write my first chapter, I had no idea how long it was going to be, nor any other chapters. By the time I felt like the chapter was finished, I hit 3,800 words. As I wrote more chapters, I found that I was pushing 4,000 words and even went as high as 4,500 words. The point here is to set a framework for how big your chapters are. In my case, it ended up being around 5,000 words. So there came a time that, when I sat down to write, I would start with the notion that I was going for about 5,000 words. This helped me to plot things out within the chapter and keep things flowing up until I felt like I needed to start wrapping it up. However…

Your structure does not have to show signs of your OCD.

It’s just my obsession with order and neatness that drives me to making sure each chapter is about the same length. Your chapters can differ in length, by wide margins even. As you’re writing your chapter, when you feel like you’ve come to the end of it – hit a solid stopping point, a good cliffhanger – that’s when it’s done.

Always leave them wanting more.

Speaking of cliffhangers, every chapter should end with a reason to want to go on to the next chapter and find out what happens next; not just for the reader, but for you as well. It’s like a way of inspiring yourself to keep writing.

Be fluid.

You’ll constantly be thinking about chapters already written. Nothing is set in stone. It’s likely you’ll be in the middle of writing Chapter 10 when you think of something to add to Chapter 1. Or you’ll have an idea to put into Chapter 10 that makes you have to change something all the way back in Chapter 1. Always be open to change.

You have to constantly ask “Why?”

You have to ask “Why?” so you can discover the motivations of each character and the conflicts that arise between characters, and to answer whatever questions the reader may have. Why someone takes the actions they take is incredibly important and helps to shape the character.

It’s a living being.

Your writing is living and breathing, constantly changing in smaller ways and sometimes larger ways along the writing process. It’ll want to be brought out and written and it’ll want you to bring it out and to write it. And there’s nothing you can do to stop it. But why would you want to? Not to mention, once it’s fully written, it’s still going to be changing. You’re going to want to constantly revise, correct things, and fix your corrections.

Rewording is an important exercise.

Always look for places where rewording could strengthen your writing. Extra-long sentences, for example, can likely be shortened. Brevity in describing action can add more immediacy and impact to your writing. If you find that you’re repeating a certain word too many times, go to thesaurus.com and look for some synonyms.

The little things become a big deal.

While I was writing the last chapter of my novel, I wrote a bit about my character grabbing her keys from a desk as she was leaving her apartment. At that point, I realized that, given that I didn’t mention what she did with her keys in the first chapter before she went on her unwanted adventure, and the fact that she lost her jacket and cell phone, the exact location of her keys throughout this whole adventure was unknown. So I had to go back to the first chapter and write in a small line about her shoving her keys into her pants pocket. That way, where her keys are is established and there’s no question in the last chapter of whether or not she had lost her keys along with the other stuff she lost. Simply put, she didn’t. They were in her pocket the whole time. Yes, the location of her keys became an important detail to me.

When looking back, you’ll constantly wonder why you did that.

So, I finished the actual writing and then immediately dove into the revision phase. The writing portion took about seven months. Obviously, I’ve had plenty of time between writing the first chapters and writing the final chapters. That’s why when I started revising the first chapters, after not looking at them for so long, I found tons of errors I was making that I knew not to make as I was writing the final chapters. In other words, the things I learned along the way weren’t applied to my earlier writings. Also, I found that I wasn’t wording my sentences as well as I hope I am now.

You may also wonder why you wrote a character doing or saying something that you now think is out of character or just completely lame. There are plenty of bits of humor I removed or changed in my novel because, looking back on them, I felt like they didn’t work, didn’t fit, or didn’t add anything. However…

When looking back, remember that surprises are gone now.

…you should be careful when editing humor. A joke you’ve read twenty or thirty times can be unfunny to you, making you think you should remove it. In actuality, though, someone reading it for the first time may laugh their butt off. I think the same rule may apply to tension as well. If you know what’s going to happen in a certain situation – how it turns out – the tension, for you, may be dialed down some.

What’s next?

I was hanging out at a bookstore café, talking with someone who mentioned that she would wonder what to do next after finishing a novel. My first answer was that, to me, my novel will never be finished as long as it goes unpublished. If I can still go back and find things I want to change – which is usually the case with what I write – then I’ll make changes. My second answer to her was that, while people tend to ask the question, “What’s next?” with the idea that a long-term or even short-term future must be decided upon, I like to think of “What’s next?” as a question that’s better answered in smaller steps. So if I’m hanging out at a bookstore café after having just finished writing and revising my novel, the answer to the question, “What’s next?” would likely be, “A bagel sounds good.”

Like I said, it’s never finished.

Even if you get your wonderful novel published, you will always think of something that you’d like to fix, add, or change. Revision never stops. No matter how completely perfect the work, an artist will always find a flaw in it. You’ll just have to find a way to live with that.

Reboot: Twilight

It’s no secret that I love Twilight.

Okay, maybe it should be a secret, but it’s not.

While I’ve never read the books, I have seen the movies a few times each. And every time I see them, I marvel at the vampire and wolf battles, I swoon along with Bella as she is pursued by not one, but two guys who could possibly kill her, and by the end of it all, I’m thinking the exact same thing I’m guessing a lot of you out there are thinking: I can make Twilight better.

So in the spirit of all of the reboots Hollywood churns out, I’ve decided to come up with a list of key points concerning what I would do if I was given the opportunity to reboot the Twilight saga.

Vampires are vampires.
First of all, and most importantly, I would drop the sensitive, sparkly vampires that all fans of vampires know and despise. Edward wouldn’t be an ‘animal blood only,’ high school kid who falls in love with a girl named Bella. He would drink the blood of humans, like any normal vampire. He and his crew wouldn’t be hanging out in high school cafeterias, they would be hanging out at carnivals as if they were in The Lost Boys. And Edward wouldn’t be stalking Bella in a strange and creepy sort of way, he’d be stalking Bella in a strange and creepy sort of… okay, so that wouldn’t change.

No obvious teen angst.
Bella wouldn’t be the girl who thinks the world is ending or over just because she now lives in a place called Forks. She wouldn’t be the type of cliché withdrawn that has her pulling away from everyone except the characters we’re supposed to see her involved with. She would be a free spirit, an artist, someone who is drawn to the darkness in Edward because what’s in the light isn’t the only thing that’s interesting. This is why she’s also drawn to Jacob, but doesn’t initially know why. He presents himself as a good guy, something that should turn her off because there’s nothing interesting about a good guy. But she can sense something underneath the surface, a secret that Jacob will soon discover and won’t want her to see for fear that he could harm her.

Jacob would still be Jacob.
This is the one thing I think Twilight gets completely right: Jacob. I love you, man. Don’t ever change.

It’s raining men. Hallelujah!
If you’ve never seen the Twilight spoof Vampires Suck, at least check out the trailer below and watch for a scene of the wolf men dancing.


Did you catch it? Good. I find this particular scene in the movie to be pure, gut-busting hilarity. Why? Because it’s so true. Admit it. We all feel the gay vibe between the wolf men in the Twilight movies. So in my reboot of the franchise, they would totally be gay. All of them. In fact, Jacob would be like the black sheep (black wolf?) of the group in that he’s the only one who is not gay. Or at the very least, he’s bi.

Even so…
Still, and this is not an intentional slight against gay people (maybe accidental, but not intentional), the wolves would be shown as being just as monstrous as the vampires, but in their own way. In human form, the wolves would be peaceful, loving, and one with nature. However, when they transform into wolves so they can hunt and feed, that’s when their Mr. Hyde comes out. The animal instinct takes over and, although they normally hunt other animals for food, if a human happens to be in the way, they’ll go after the human. And they do kill humans in my reboot. That would be their curse, one they must learn to live with and attempt to keep from “normal” people, which is why the wolves separate themselves from society, especially when they’re older and begin to transform. And this is Edward’s argument to Bella against Jacob. “I can choose to not harm you. But if you’re around when he’s hunting, he will only look at you as his prey.”

The third faction.
In Twilight, there are three factions: good vampires, bad vampires, and wolves. But in my reboot, there’s no such thing as a good vampire, so the three factions would have to be: vampires, wolves, and zombies. C’mon, zombies are bacon; they make everything better.

Seriously, though, the zombies in my Twilight would be what happens to a human when a vampire doesn’t either kill them or change them, but instead leaves them in a sort of limbo, not fully reanimated, but not fully dead. A human can become a zombie if a vampire doesn’t get the job done, either accidentally or on purpose. And this plays into a basic outline of how my reboot would go. Like the first Twilight, a vampire and his girlfriend compete with Edward for Bella. When Edward kills the man, his girlfriend escapes and vows revenge. She assembles her crew to face Edward’s crew in a later story. When Edward is victorious yet again, with the help of the wolves who Bella has Jacob drag into the fight, killing the vengeful woman along the way, the new man in her life goes crazy and figures that the only way to take out Edward and the wolves is with a zombie army. So he goes off to create this army to bring against Edward’s crew.

Vampires aren’t the only ones with gifts.
Since becoming a vampire also gives the person a supernatural power, it’s pretty apparent that Twilight is ripping off an element of X-Men. So why not just bring one of the X-Men into Twilight? Yes, in my reboot, Hugh Jackman will play Wolverine in the Twilight films. He’ll be Bella’s high school art instructor who becomes concerned when she gets involved with both Edward and Jacob. He intervenes to protect her, but is ultimately faced with the notion that Bella has to make her own stupid mistakes in life. But even though she’s free to make those stupid mistakes, that doesn’t mean Wolvie can’t be there to kick some ass for her when she needs him and his adamantium claws.

The ending would not be pretty.
Remember that epic battle in Breaking Dawn that turned out to be a dream? Yeah, not happening here. When you have vampires, wolves, and zombies all going after each other, humans are going to die. Like, all of them. Yeah, the whole town of Forks is completely wiped out in the final battle when the zombies invade, the vampires and wolves defend, and then eventually the vampires and wolves go after each other once the zombies are gone. Through all of this, every living person in Forks will be killed. It’ll happen so fast, with so much panic, that no one can escape. In the end, the legend of Forks would be a tale not unlike the Roanoke mystery in which a whole town disappears and no one knows why, and the most frightening tales of what possibly happened are the stories that go around.

In fact, the very end of the series would have a teenage boy telling this legend to a group of people. As he finishes, an older version of Jacob places a hand on the boy’s shoulder and says, “Stop scaring the tourists, son.” Yes, Jacob and Bella have a son. Oh, did I mention…

Bella chooses Jacob as she always should have.
We all know those two crazy kids belong together. Seriously. In the history of great fictitious romances, it’s Romeo and Juliet, Beatrice and Benedict, Superman and Lois Lane, Rhett and Scarlet, Jack and Rose, Wesley and Buttercup, Gomez and Morticia, but not Edward and Bella. It’s totally Jacob and Bella. Everyone knows this. Jacob would not get stuck with falling in love with Bella’s baby. Seriously, how does Jacob go from wanting an older woman in Bella to skewing insanely into the realm of ‘extreme pedophile?’ So in my Twilight reboot, in the end, Bella chooses Jacob.

Or she chooses Alice. I’m not against the lesbian angle.

They Should’ve Called It ‘Hit Men’

This past summer movie season, there were avengers, there were dinosaurs, there were terminators, and there were not so fantastic fours. But I have to say that my favorite movie of the summer wasn’t any of the big hits or the little hits or the expected to be hits. My favorite film this year was one that, after seeing the trailer, I thought would be really bad: Hitman: Agent 47.

I’m not saying it’s the best movie in terms of quality production, but it’s the one movie this year that had the smallest list of things that bothered me about it. And seriously, isn’t that the key element that really makes a movie enjoyable?

Based on the Hitman series of video games, none of which I’ve played by the way, the story revolves around a secret program to create enhanced humans who kill without feeling or remorse. It’s not the deepest of plots, but there was something there that had me enjoying it over other films such as Jurassic World, over Terminator: Genisys, even over The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Okay, so I didn’t see the newest Mission: Impossible, but that’s because I enjoy anything over Tom Cruise. Actually, I really loved Edge of Tomorrow, possibly because Tom Cruise died a lot in it.

Anyway, while the story was pretty okay for what it was, the special effects sometimes left me wondering if they were even finished. But I can forgive that since the movie is an aspiring $100 million film that was made on a $31 million budget. If you think about it from that standpoint, it’s actually pretty astounding what they were able to pull off in the film.

The action set pieces aren’t the biggest or wildest things you’ve ever seen, but they’re enough to satisfy any fan of action. The story has a nice pace to it, with plenty of said action mixed in with just enough downtime to get you ready for the next chase or well-choreographed gun battle or hand-to-hand fight. The best compliment I can pay to this movie is that it never felt dull.

Sure the movie obviously borrows from the first Terminator a slight bit – with Agent 47 early on in the film seeming like a Terminator pursuing a damsel in distress who Zachary Quinto (Second Spock) is trying to protect – and also borrows a piece of dialogue from Watchmen. But these borrows didn’t really bother me much as they fit pretty well with the story as a whole.

And of course, one my favorite aspects of the film is that the aforementioned damsel in distress can seriously take care of herself. Played by Hannah Ware, she becomes so badass in this film and bears more of a resemblance to Linda Hamilton that I feel Emilia Clarke was miscast in the role of Sarah Connor in Terminator: Genisys. While I like Ms. Clarke, Hannah Ware would’ve made a much more convincing Sarah Connor and maybe could’ve helped that movie gain just a touch more credibility.

Unfortunately, Hitman: Agent 47 tanked at the box office. I don’t mean “unfortunately” as in I personally had something to lose, but I mean “unfortunately” in the sense that it really isn’t that bad of a film, certainly not enough to earn an extremely disappointing $8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office, $17 million worldwide. It’s seriously a better film than that and I hope more film fans, especially action movie fans, will give it a look.

Maybe it’s the fact that the movie is based on a video game and video game movies, for now, have a stigma of being terrible movies. Maybe it’s the fact that the previous Hitman movie was a film that generously added to that stigma. I don’t know why this movie didn’t at least earn a respectable amount of money back. What I do know is that there most likely won’t be a sequel to Hitman: Agent 47 and I’m kind of sad about that. I’ll probably never play the video games, I’m just not interested in them, but this movie really made me want to see more of Agent 47.

At the very least, I want to see Hannah Ware in another action movie.