Monday, June 11, 2012

Prometheus in Black III (two movies for the price of one blog) Minor spoilers

Over the weekend I had a chance to see both Prometheus and Men in Black III.  Bottom line, both were entertaining, but I'd give the edge to Prometheus just because it was the fresher of the two.

Previews and trailers hint about how the mission of Prometheus is based on ancient astronaut messages found by scientists.  Not a bad premise.  (MINOR SPOILER) It gave an entertaining twist on the creation vs. evolution story with a brief discussion about aliens who may have influenced our evolution.  Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (always wearing a cross) has a great line about the aliens when asked about the religious implications - "Somebody had to create them." 

Now, I'm a Christian, but I have some reservations about creationism vs. evolution.  Maybe they're both right.  Maybe God did it all in 6 days, but 6 days from God's POV could be very different and people during biblical times probably couldn't have understood the idea of anything taking millions of years.  Anyway, back to the movies.

I liked Noomie Rapace as female lead Elizabeth Shaw.  But in many ways, the one who stole the show was Michael Fassbender as David.  He was creepy from minute one. 
Charlize Theron gave a good performance as Meredith Vickers.  Definite Alpha female material with a chip on her shoulder and not trying to hide that she had her own agenda (but keeps that to herself - she just wants to put everyone on notice).

Entertaining, but I'm hoping this will be the last of this series.  (Spoiler ALERT).  No Zed or Frank at all.  While Frank would probably have gotten annoying, I loved Rip Torn as Zed in the first two movies.

Josh Brolin did a phenomenal job as young K.  Kudos for the casting there.  There were times I wondered if they'd dubbed in Tommy Lee Jones's voice.  That said, I think they could have picked a better villain than Boris the animal. Oh well, nobody's perfect.  It was also fairly clever how they explained (or hinted) why J wasn't effected by the timeline change when Boris goes back and kills young K.

The character Griffin had some interesting abilities, but his babbling got a bit annoying.  He could have easily become the Jar Jar Binks of the movie.  Fortunately it didn't come to that.

Also, the tech downgrades to 1969 were funny (especially the neurolizers).


When Meredith Vickers invites our two heroic scientist to talk and there is the brief discussion of her quarters/lifeboat and how self-sufficient it is, they might as well have just said that would be a critical means of escape.  It wasn't as subtle as Ripley's skills with the loader in Aliens (her coming out at the end using it to fight the queen was a great twist in that movie).  Maybe if they'd made Vickers more of a germaphobe or something it wouldn't have been so obvious.

One "plot" problem I had was that if the world Prometheus went to was a launch site/bio weapons lab that was creating weapons to destroy Earth, then why leave the clues so it could be found?  Was this a subtle example of the super villains monologuing their plan because they didn't think the humans could ever stop them?

I was also puzzled a little about David's first victim.  I didn't get a full sense of why he did what he did.  Maybe just scientific curiosity.

When J and young K met up with and got assistance from the Colonel back in 1969, it took about 5 seconds for me to figure out who he was.  Some of that was hinted by older K.  Just how many African American colonels were there back in 1969?  I may catch some flack for this, but the rank seemed a bit too high for an African American for that time.  Perhaps a lower rank would have attracted less attention (NCO or a lower ranking officer, like a captain). 

I started laughing when young K pulled out the 1969 portable neurolizer and tried to boot it up (dial tone/login sounds that anybody who's had dial-up Internet would recognize). 

That's all for now.  And please remember to always tip your servers.  It could save lives.

Saturday, May 5, 2012


Last night I attended the openning night of Avengers.  Unlike some, I wasn't jumping up and down about how absolutely fantastic, perfect, and awesome it was.  Keep in mind that if you listen to too many of those comments, you could hype it up too much.  That said, I really just have good things to comment on with the movie.

Warning, I may post some minor spoilers, but I'll try not to give too much away.  The one that I will give right now is that some rumors are true.  There are TWO (2...1+1...doubles...) end credit scenes.  The first after the first part of the credits showing XXXXXX (personally censored), the probable villain for an Avengers 2.  Now some comic collecting ultra-fans of mine commented that they see no way to integrate this villain into a sequel.  To that I say, it's based on comic books (sci-fi/fantasy stuff).  Nothing is impossible.

For writers, here are some of the things that worked.  First, the Avengers were a diverse group of characters who form a team.  I've commented on this in the past.  It's a great formula for books, TV, and movies.  Why?  Because one hero may not always appeal to everybody.  So what do you do?  Bring in different personalities.  Even the less-than-super characters like Agent Phil Coulson have an important place. 

What else worked?  A great mix of action, interaction, and humor.  Tony Stark delivered great action and comic relief (as you would expect).  But the best jokes were the ones you didn't see coming (hint - the second end credit scene was purely for fun.  It had no teaser, but it was worth waiting a couple extra minutes).  Black widow showed some vulnerability (real or not - you decide).  You also really see how clever she is.  She uses some femininity and sexyness, but not quite in the traditional way.  Definitely not just another pretty face. 

I had a mixed opinion of Captain America.  In some ways, I think most people were expecting Tony Stark's overwhelming presence to lead the team, but I was a little surprised when he basically asks Captain America for the battle plan when they get ready to face the enemy.

If I was going to point out one thing I think could have been better.  The circumstances around the second transformation for the Hulk for the last battle.

Speaking of the big green.  Tony Stark had the funniest lines, but some of Hulk's actions really got the best laughs.  Particularly with Loki (nuff said on that).

Summary - lots of fun and it will be very difficult for a sequel to be better.  I hope they realize that just adding bigger explosions won't make a better movies.  We know the actors and director can rise to the occasion.  Let's hope for a good script. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Protagonist Might Have Aspergers

Sorry I haven't been able to post for so long, but it's been even longer since I've actually been able to work on my story.  Life can get in the way, but I've been thinking about some critiques I've received regarding one of my characters.  Some have commented on his lack of emotional range. 

Originally, I intended to write him as somewhat reserved, maybe emotionally withdrawn.  If you haven't read any of my descriptions, my protagonist is a partial telepath - he can detect all thoughts around him that pertain to him.  Consider how many close friendships you would make if, throughout your life, you always knew the truth about what everyone around you thinks about you? Add to that the fact that he genetically inherited his mother's memories - including her being attacked and stabbed just before his birth.  He's not too quick to trust.

I thought that would be his main character/personality limitation, but last year, something changed.  My son was diagnosed as high-functioning autistic.  Like most parents, I started researching it and started making some correlations with my protagonist.  I'm continuing to review some basic material and compare with my character's personality.  I believe that I've inadvertently given my protagonist Aspergers traits.  Since this is science fiction, I decided to work that into the story.  Since the story takes place about 500 years in the future, I'll assume a cure for Aspergers/Autism would be found.  My protag's affliction would be like Aspergers in almost every respect except for the fact that it is brought on, largely, due to a severe trauma pre-birth or at birth.  This affliction gives tendencies for the brain to reduce or shut down part of their emotional processing because they were effectively overloaded at birth.  The symptoms will mirror Aspergers so much that he'll be misdiagnosed and treated for Aspergers. 

One thing I know is that I still have a lot of work to do to make this work but hopefully, this will become a good character development.  More importantly, I would love for this story to bring more attention to Aspergers/Autism.