Saturday, April 23, 2016

Movie Review - Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

I've done a few movie reviews in the past, and I think I'll pick them up again. They won't be pretty, and they won't be professional. But they WILL be honest.

Before I spew a giant wall of text, I'll come clean, I'm primarily a Marvel Comics and Independent comics guy. But!!!!! I DO love Batman (most of the comics runs have been fantastic and I've been reading them for years), and some of the Superman runs hold a place close to my heart.

Now, onto the wall of text...

There were parts of the movie that I LOVED, standing on their own, apart from the rest of the movie, because the movie as a whole is BROKEN. I'll give some specific thoughts without going into spoilers (because people can read this before seeing the movie, though I really suggest they don't... see the movie).

Ben Affleck was phenomenal as Batman, and frankly, I had my doubts going in. I believed. He WAS Bruce Wayne, he WAS the Dark Knight. Boy got RIPPED for the role too. And Jeremy Irons was a sassy MF Alfred.

The BvS fight was AWESOME, even if the story that led to there rang false because there wasn't enough of it to make it matter.

Gal Godot IS Wonder Woman, and there simply wasn't enough of her. I can't wait for her stand alone movie.

The reveals of C, F, and A were just right (though I do have issues with some of the hand wavy around some of it). I can't wait to see A's movie right along with Wonder Woman's.

And that's the entirety of what I loved about the movie.

Zack Snyder gets a rainbow sticker, because he seems to have learned how to break up long-ass fight scenes so I don't get too bored, which is an improvement. But then I'm going to light that sticker on fire because he can't tell a coherent story.

And then there's the stuff that just blew bloody little goat chunks.

Henry Cavill is a pretty damned good actor, but we're not allowed to actually give a damn about him in this movie (or the last). There was so much potential for the whole story around "do we need Superman" and what that says about us, but it seems like Snyder got bored with it partway through and just started smashing his toys around. The explosion, you know the one I'm talking about, was a great opportunity, and the story started to ask the right questions, and then seems to have dropped them.

The dreams... WTF is up with them? Completely unnecessary and so BADLY done. Were these just Zack Snyder spending all the money they could throw at him?

There's the unnecessary "origin story" one at the beginning of the movie? Remember how it ends? With a certain physics defying act? There's no lead in that it's a dream and not a memory, that gets revealed in a voice over.... yay?

The post-apocalypse one from the trailer? Why? If the supposed purpose was to show how Bruce was tortured by a dystopian vision of what unchecked power can do? So he has a reason to go down a dark path? Meanwhile he's running around unchecked himself? Ben Affleck can act. Let him. The little discussion Bruce had with Alfred did fine on its own.

Then there's the illogical car chase stuff, and the over-equipping of bad guys. Who uses a heavily armed convoy of private contractors to covertly transport/smuggle something into a city? Way to fly under the radar... and there's a part near the beginning of that chase where the hero,
A) stands somewhere really stupid to do something really simple, (because it's dramatic?), and
B) does something no one would do if they were trying to move fast. Do you drop anchor on a ship and drag it behind you if you're trying to catch something? Oh, but look, it magically came in handy... good thing our hero has some sort of bat-precognition.

The final fight scene, how nice that they gave us time to breathe and a few lighter moments that were robbed of their levity by the trailers (haha, is she with you?). It's nice that Snyder watched the Avengers movies, isn't it?

Also... kudos to Perry White, the most powerful journalistic (illuminati) editor in the world. Despite the fact that "no one reads the newspaper any more" he can fly his ONE reporter all over the world, AND serve up a helicopter "ON THE ROOF" at a moment's notice... damn that man's got power.

And last, the part of the movie that drove me batty (pun intended) was Eisenberg's Luthor. Who would let that man do ANYTHING? Oh, wait... maybe it's an allegory, where Lex Luthor is a stand in for Zach Snyder, and the authorities in the world around him are stand ins for DC/WB?

I give it 3 stars, out of 10. There were some absolutely awesome elements to the movie (see what I loved above), but there's just too much crap and garbage packed around it.

It earns the distinction of being the first movie below the threshold of suck on my Movie List

Monday, April 11, 2016

Needs doing.

Wow... I had a bit of a crisis with writing my blog back in... ... ahem, July of last year.

I need to get things sorted and cleaned up around here, and maybe change up the way I'm (not) blogging.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Outlining vs Pantsing: Why choose just one?

Note: This post is late. I mean waaaaaay late. But it's also not the first time I've written it. I can only hope I'm half as coherent this time around as I was last time, because you can't see last time.

First, some quick definitions:

The process where a writer builds a framework for their story before they start writing. This can be done at the plot level, where the major points in the start, middle, and end (including a twist or two here and there) are predetermined. It can be done at the arc level, where major character and story elements are planned. And even at the scene level, where every scene is planned out from start to finish with it's own plot and arc covered.

Most outliners work at several points along that scale and at varying detail with each work. Some go heavy into their outline for specific scenes or characters, and leave side characters or less key scenes at a very high level.

There is a lot of preparation and pre-work with outlining before you even start writing the actual story. Some writers feel that outlining kills the story for them and makes them lose interest.

Writing by "the seat of your pants". This is the process where a writer has a vague but awesome story idea, character, setting, or theme they want to explore and they just go with it, discovering the story along with their characters.

Now, in the case of many pantsers that I've talked to, they often do have an idea of where the story will end before they start. But they don't always end up there.

I'm also told that pantsing often involves a fair bit of rewriting and editing, often to the point where more words are cut out of a work than are left in the finished product.

Well, now that that's out of the way.

There are plenty of blog posts, and articles, and books on the subject of Outlining/Plotting/Architecting and Pantsing/Discovery Writing/Growing stories and why one is better than the other. Or different systems for implementing each. And there are famous (and prolific) writers on each side.

With all the people I've talked to I've seen few things more fetishized in genre fiction writing circles than Plotting vs Pantsing (except maybe choice of writing software, alcohol, and the ever-present Mac vs PC).

Some people get downright tribal about it.

Which I find surprising, because a lot of the writers I spoke to seem to fall somewhere in the middle. Plotting and outlining very loosely, and discovering their way between points.

I mean, yes, that sounds like a high level outliner. But they're not rigid in what they've outlined. Instead of points on their outline being anchors to write between, they see them more as guideposts along the trail, and sometimes they'll go for a wander.

So where do I sit?

Ok, confession time: I'm all over the place with this one. If there's one point of my process that's a hot, gooey, moist, mess, this is it. This is the biggest pain point in my writing process.

I can't write without an outline. Not anything complex anyway. Vignettes and short stories for ideas, certainly, but not much more than that. So I definitely fall on the Outline side of the spectrum. I need my waypoints. When it comes to writing, I'm like one of those drivers who can't leave their driveway to go to the corner shop without putting it in their GPS first, even if they can see it from their driveway.

But on the same token, I'm not married to my outline. My finished story is never the same one that was in the original outline. It changes and mutates often, as I explore the characters, or spot problems, or get inspired by something that explodes the little synapses in my brain. I may need to turn my GPS on to go to the corner shop, but I don't necessarily have to follow it to get there. Sometimes my trip to the corner shop for a carton of milk ends up at the dairy halfway across town because they have ice cream!

I call this: Agile Outlining.

Now if only I was better at it.

If it's a problem that puts the brakes on, that can take hours, days, and sometimes even weeks of agonizing and brainstorming to sort out, and I'm paralyzed from pushing further on that story until I sort it out... because it may have ramifications.

You see, every time I run into one of those things that make my synapses go BANG, I have to see what it does. Start to finish I have to look at the setup and impacts, the foreshadowing and payoff. I'm not so bad that I have to go back and rewrite the things that beg, nay, the things that need to be rewritten. No! That way madness lies! I go back and make notes. Wonderfully detailed notes in the handy spot Scrivener gives me for them.

And all is write with the world. (Sorry, couldn't help myself there.)

Except that it isn't. These little (nuclear) blasting caps of story don't just happen once in the writing of a book. No. They're not that decent to me. They happen all the time, leaving me with more word count in notes than I often have in my finished manuscript.

Editing is its own kind of torture.

If you know of any way to help me along in this process, or can throw any tips or suggestions my way, please feel free to do so in the comments. Sadly, I'm a teetotaler, so, while I hear it does the trick for an alarming percentage of the writing community, alcohol won't be of much use.


This is the sixth entry in a series of posts about my evolving writing process.