Tag Archives: Film

Battleship- A lesson in poor storytelling and great story telling at the same time

Hubbs just came home with “Battleship”. Yeah, he’s always good at picking out a nice romantic move for me. Bring on the explosions! Oh Yeah!

Anyway… I did not have high hopes for this movie because it was not in the theaters long… so let’s dissect why.

This movie is about aliens coming down to Earth and trying to blow everything up. For that part … well done. Excellent special effects and awesome aliens and ship designs.

But a story needs more than that, right? Characters and plot and people to root for.

Well, this movie had all that, so I was wondering half way through why I wasn’t enjoying it. Then Hubbs said, “I’m not really worried about any of these characters. I just don’t care.”

You know what? He was right.

However, at the end of the movie, a bunch of characters came in that were beautifully introduced at the very beginning of the movie, and all of the sudden you had someone to root for.

This is a horrible movie, with a great ending.

So what’d they do wrong? Let’s discuss.

Main character: We didn’t like him. Not in any shape or form. They tried to give him a “nice side” by having him break the law to get a girl a burrito so she will talk to him (don’t ask) but it just didn’t work.

The next problem is: right after this happens, the story swishes ahead years later, and he and that girl are going to get married. Huh? How’d that happen? We missed out on all that part of the story, so we were never engaged in their relationship. We didn’t feel any emotion or worry about either of them when they were in trouble because we never felt emotion between them. Make sense?

Next problem: I have no problem with a tramp troupe beautiful woman when it works. Transformers, for instance. (The first one… I try to forget the others were ever made) The troupe pretty girl worked there. In Battleship, they force-fed the beautiful girl in there that just didn’t need to be there for the story…and then they out of the blue made her a psychiatrist or something so she could be one of the secondary hero’s doctors to give her a place in the story, where the secondary hero could have done it himself. Sorry, didn’t work for me.

Poor choice of main character.

You will understand this if you’ve seen the end. The guys at the end would have been much better main characters. The end was awesome. What a testimony to retired armed forces, and good old fashioned building materials. Right?

We were on our feet, we were cheering. Oh wait, sit down, cutting back to the dumb bimbo again. Okay, back up on our feet! We’re back with the other guys!

The people at the end, to me, were the heroes… Good old fashioned heroes. These were the guys I wanted to see.

Get rid of the troupe hunky main character – especially one as unlikable as him

Get rid of the senseless bimbo factor, unless she really has a role other than driving a car and running in a poorly fit bra.

Keep the secondary hero that has a REASON for having a bad attitude. Yeah, I like the soldier without any legs. I understood why he was a jerk in the beginning. I wanted him to win. I was rooting for him.

Keep the guys at the end. (I can’t tell you who or it will be a spoiler)

Yeah, the movie would have been shorter if they’d done this, but the first half before the aliens got there was boring and pointless anyway.

I want to see a movie with the unexpected heroes at the end. People up against incredible odds, that you really and truly WANT to root for. They totally rocked!

Would I recommend this movie? Yes, totally. Awesome action… but with the exception of the end (which was great)… look at it as a learning experience about how to NOT write a story.

And yes… I’m going back to take a quick peek at a character that my betas have been saying is a little unlikable. I understand what they mean, now.

Oh!–Don’t forget that J Taylor Publishing is giving away five copies of the Make Believe anthology. Hop on over if you’d like a chance at a copy! http://www.jtaylorpublishing.com/blog/?p=1125

A Review of the Movie “Adventures of Tin Tin” from a writer’s perspective

Very rarely do we bring a movie into the house that every member of the family enjoys.

My husband rented “The Adventures of Tin Tin” for the kids, and slipped it in after dinner tonight.  We were only supposed to watch a few minutes, and then get to our chores.  Well, lets just say the chores never happened.  The workout my husband wanted to do didn’t happen either.  Nor did my writing time.

Honestly, I was not interested at all at first.  I believe (I may be wrong) that this was a British TV series at one time.  I’ve seen remakes before, and have rarely been impressed.

This, however, was well-written, exciting, and visually stunning.

I found myself watching the movie and thinking, “How would I even write that?”  I think the answer is, that I couldn’t.  I’m not sure anyone could.  There was just too much action in this movie to be condensed down into a book.  This was conceived to be on the screen, and then bought to life with some of the best animation I’ve ever seen.  Several times I found myself forgetting that it was animated… even when looking at the characters.  Simply breathtaking.

The story is well-plotted and flows magically from one high-action scene to the next with not much more than a three minute pause to take a breath.  It never feels forced.   It just WORKS.

Every character is well defined, and you care about them.  There is a set of Keystone-Like cops that are there strictly for comic relief.  My husband and I agreed that they did not need to be there, but we figured that they were probably characters in the original series that die-hards would have missed if they were not there.  Their appearances are kept to a minimum, though, and were not over-bearing.

Overall, this was a fantastic pick for my family.

Comments after the movie:

My Eleven Year Old:  “I can’t believe how good that was.”

My Eight Year old:  “Did you see that?  When he did this, and that guy got ‘em back, and then he…”  (acting out everything the whole time)

My Six Year Old:  Fell off the couch and pretended to faint it was so good.

My Husband:  “That was one of the best action movies I’ve seen since Indiana Jones!  We need to buy this in HD so we can watch it in the Home Theater.”  (We started in it out regular living room.  If we knew what we were in for, we probably would have set ourselves up in the basement)

Me?  I’m dumfounded at the originality.  I mean, who would have ever thought to have two people dueling with cranes.  Yes, I said CRANES.  And the thing with the Plane?  We were all shouting at the screen.  What a hoot… It just didn’t stop.

To do these action scenes justice, each one of them would have taken 50 pages of text in a novel, and there were more action scenes than I could spit back into this article.

Oh yeah, super positive message at the end as well.

Yes, it’s open for a sequel, and for the first time ever all my kids said, without prompt, “When can we see the next one?”

Well, Peter Jackson and Stephen Spielberg… well done.

So, when is the next one?

A Review of Hereafter, from a Writer’s Perspective.

Wow.  It’s been a long time since I started a movie, and my husband and I mutually agreed not to finish it.

“Hereafter” had everything.  It should have been a great movie.  It started off okay.  Was it poor direction?  Poor presentation?  Poor story?  Driving in to work today, I tried to figure it out, to make sure I don’ make the same mistakes in my writing.

“Hereafter” starts with a negative.  Subtitles.  I was okay with it, though.  After a while, however, it got to be too much.  At one point about half way through, my husband started to forward the parts with the subtitles.  Funny thing is, we didn’t miss anything… and I think that’s part of the problem.

Pacing, and false-action beginning.

When I first started writing, I read a blog, and I wish I could remember her name, but she said something that has stuck with me.  “The first chapter is a promise to your reader.”  She went on to say that your first chapter should exemplify what your reader can expect from the rest of it.

“Hereafter” starts with a couple on vacation (speaking French, with subtitles)  They have a beachfront hotel room, and a tsunami hits.  Great heart-pumping beginning. After that, the movie just dies.  Boom.  Dead.  Bury me, please.

We are catapulted away from that scene to Matt Damon’s character, who is a psychic who has stopped using his powers because he wants a normal life.  Okay, that part was fine.

Catapult #2:  We are then slammed to England, where two twin boys are struggling with their mother’s opium dependence.  Huh?  At first we thought it was the same woman from the opening scene, but no… totally different person.

Boomerang:  Now we are in France with the person dealing with the aftermath of surviving a tsunami

Slap:  Back to the USA with Matt Damon, who is getting cooking lessons.  Huh?

***Get on with it!***

After an hour of this, I rolled over, hugged my pillow, and said “wake me up if anything happens”

Now, obviously, I hope, all these people would come together to make a point out of this movie.   However, at that point, I was totally bored out of my mind.

I liked the Matt Damon parts.  They at least had a spark of an interesting plot.  The rest of it seemed like low-budget foreign films (no music in this move at all either, which is really weird.)

Well, I fell asleep.  This morning my husband said, “Do you mind if we just return this and get another movie?”

Normally, I would want to see what happened.  I honestly didn’t care one bit.  “Yeah, send it back.”

***So, What went wrong?***

So what went wrong?  The characters may have been important to the end of the story (I suppose, I didn’t get that far)  But if their stories are boring, do we need to know about them in such detail?

If they all come together, it could have been taken care of better in flashback or dialog right before they all meet.  Tsunami survivor can remember the horrible ordeal, and the person next to them can say “Wow, you sure had a hard time adjusting, didn’t you.”  The kids and their Mom could have been summed up similarly in dialog.

GET ON WITH IT

The point is… GET ON WITH IT.  The story teller lost me.  Completely.  So much so that I didn’t finish.

Look at your novels carefully and decide, honestly, if there is a place where someone might think “Get on with it.”

And watch those false-action beginnings.  I was all ready for a great action flick here.  What I got was a boring melodrama.

Review of Skyline, from a Writer’s Perspective.

Skyline is the perfect example of how you can ruin a spectacular movie in the last three seconds.

This movie had everything.

Explosions? Check

Action/Adventure? Check

Well written characters? Check

Original? (Well, pretty much.  It felt a little like ID4 Independence Day shown from another perspective)

Great plot? Check (until the end)

Closure on all the characters?  Check (until the end)

From a writer’s perspective, let’s look at the characters.  There aren’t too many.  (Nine total, I think) and they are all easily recognizable.  This is a run-for your life move, so yes, not all of them will make it until the end, that’s a given, so not all nine are in the entire movie.

Each of the nine…even the two that only had a few lines, were wonderfully depicted, which is a show of not only strong writing, but also fairly decent acting.

Even though we only saw that character for a second, or a few lines, the lines or “happenings” were strong enough that we could relate to them, and we cared, even though they were not one of the main characters.  Also, to do that, we didn’t need their back story or to get too much into their lives.  We could just relate.

For instance:  There is a big loud party.  A security guard or building manager knocks on the door and very politely (and realistically) asks them to be quiet.  He walks away, knowing fully-well that they will not quiet down, with this precious look on his face.  I identified.  Haven’t we all been there?  The point is, a 30 second fully-rounded character that you can identify with.  Well done.

What was also great is that every minor character that we meet gets sewn up with an ending of some sort.  Some heroic, some unfortunate, but their stories are all completed by the end of the movie.

This was a five-out-of five star movie until the last five minutes.  As the movie was starting to end, I started to get that “awe shoot” feeling.  Realistic ending?  Probably— but I prefer something a little happier.  That’s just me though.

However, then it took a tumble.  A huge tumble.

I would love to know if this visually spectacular and probably hugely-expensive movie ran out of budget, and stopped production…because that is what looked like happened.

I will try to explain this without a spoiler…a major scene is happening.  One character turns and looks at a bad guy, takes a step… and the credits start.

The movie just stops.  Boom.  No ending.  No ending at all.  I have to say it again…

This is what really grates on my nerves.  This movie was SPECTACULAR until the last five minutes, but those last five minutes, though disappointing, were at least acceptable.  But those last three seconds?

If they had just gone on for five to ten more minutes, they could have finished.  But nothing is more disappointing that having a great time watching a movie and not having it end.

I mean, this isn’t even like Luke and Lea looking out the window while the Millenium Falcon leaves to go save Han Solo.  That at least faded into space and you knew they were doing something (and that there would be a next movie)

This movie just STOPPED right in the middle of a scene.

So disappointing.

Two Stars.  One for Awesome Special Effects, and one for great characters.

Five more minutes and this film could have been one of the best I’d ever seen.  Such a shame.

For authors:  FINISH YOUR STINKING STORIES.  Don’t leave your reader’s hanging.  I was loving SKYLINE, but instead of turning it off and saying “wow” I went to bed angry.

It’s never good to go to bed angry.