working working…

May 11, 2018

I have somehow once again got myself to the point where everything I have to work on are revisions. Like, five of them. I’ve been feeling super-productive and now I’ve just stalled out. Argh. Okay, gotta get some of this done.

Meanwhile, I’ve been laughing because I’ve seen a bunch of posts about what a great and underrated movie Speed Racer is and just want to remind everyone that I loved it and told everyone to go see it ten years ago.

 

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Not just spoilers, but a prediction:

So I saw Infinity War again and I really really really meant to pay attention to the structure, because it’s not a three-act structure and I want to figure out how they juggled all those stories and characters. But I got sucked in to all the amazing heart-wrenching things happening on screen just like before and didn’t pay attention as well as I wanted. This time, the most heartbreaking thing was Vision’s line to Wanda:  “It shouldn’t be you, but it is.” Ugh. Paul Bettany. Weeping.

I think I’m going to have to wait for the DVD and sit down with a pen and paper and do a flow chart. Because basically, this is three movies spliced together and none of the seams show, and it’s great. I thought there were four movies, but I think it’s just three, it’s just that the connective tissue is all the B-stories connected to the A-stories.

The A-stories are Tony, Thor, and Thanos. They have the character arcs, they have the plots, they lead the side quests, they’re driving all the stuff.

The B-stories:  Bruce is the B-story to the Thor plot. Gamora is the B-story to the Thanos plot. And I didn’t see it at first, but I think Vision and Wanda are the B-story to the Tony plot. Which I missed because they don’t actually interact through the entire film, but Vision is Tony’s creation, basically, so yes. They’re connected.

What’s genius about all this and why I’m going to have to draw a flow chart at some point is the B stories are the glue that hold the A stories together and successfully merge it all into one movie. They’re the ones who cross over. They’re the ones carrying the overall plot from one character to the next, one scene to the next.

I’m having trouble fitting one character into all this:  Captain America. It’s my one disappointment, that’s not actually a disappointment but it is something I missed. The guy barely does anything except have a couple of grand entrances and be his earnest adorable self. (“I am Groot!” “I am Steve Rogers!”) But I trust Marvel. They’re setting us up. Oh God, indeed.

I think the next movie is going to be all about him. My friend pointed out that we don’t have a three-act structure because we’re missing the third act. One of the pivotal lines of the film is Steve’s:  “We don’t trade lives.” That’s a message of the whole film, really:  you don’t get to sacrifice individual lives. The cost is too high. You can’t put a price on it. (That Thanos is the one character who is all, Yup, I’ll sacrifice a life, sure thing! reinforces that he’s the villain.)

Except…except…everyone in the universe gets exactly one life to trade:  their own. We don’t trade lives. Oh Steve.

Marvel is setting us up.

 

Avengers: Infinity War

April 30, 2018

Well, I loved it. I thought it was damn near perfect, given the bar this film had to clear. Guys, when Captain America appears the first time, with the Avengers theme swelling in the soundtrack — the audience cheered, for real. Can’t argue with that. And I loved that the film just went there. They did not pull the punch. I’m so impressed, and actually feeling a bit psychopathic because everyone around me is in mourning and I’m sitting here screeching YES! YES! YES!

So, I wrote a big long take on the movie…and decided to save it for my Lightspeed review. So that’ll be out soon. Meanwhile….

SPOILERS!

I was not expecting that the one scene that made me really cry was the heart-to-heart between Thor and Rocket. Like, where did that come from?

 

a warning and a rewrite

April 25, 2018

I watched The Titan on Netflix and it’s so bad I can’t stop thinking about it. Never have I seen a science fiction movie so apparently uninterested in its own premise. The whole mission is “We are going to surgically and genetically alter humans so they can survive on the surface of Titan,” which is awesome, but then the main conflict of the story seems to be “OMG these test subjects are radically changed, this is terrible!”  And I’m just agog, like, isn’t that what we were going for? Not to mention there’s no freaking way they would send them home to live in their fancy suburban houses with their families at all once they start injecting them. These scientists were stupider than the scientists of Prometheus.

Really, what they should have done is model this thing on The Right Stuff combined with the Outer Limits episode “The Architects of Fear.”

So I’m going to rewrite it, right here, right now. Just to get it out of my system.

First off, this is a serious military medical operation. No fancy suburban houses which doesn’t make a lick of sense. Once they start getting injected, the subjects are locked up and hooked to monitors 24/7 so the docs can intervene the minute things go wrong. Second, we aren’t going to pretend that this isn’t a one-way trip. (Seriously, in Titan they kept acting like they were going to come back from this.) We also aren’t going to pretend that someone who’s been radically altered to live in the super-freezing methane world of Titan could also somehow survive on the surface of Earth. And third (there’s a lot of issues here), they’re astronauts going to explore Titan. This isn’t about trying to move the entirety of humanity to Titan because Titan is somehow better than environmentally destroyed Earth because, whoa, dude, seriously.

So our main characters are our main test subject and one of the women doctors on the team. They have a bit of history but it didn’t work out. There’s still a spark. This will be important later. The subjects were all chosen because they have no families because it’s a one way trip because that’s how stuff like this works. But the emotional connection between these two will help the main test subject survive the procedure, which sounds really corny but if you sell the relationship hard enough it will work. Plus, human/alien kissing.

We get to know maybe five of the test subjects, and there are rivalries and conflicts. The best part of Titan was showing the start of some of the adaptations — they’re underwater for half an hour, they’re surviving in sub-zero temperatures, etc. So that’s what we focus on. Also, there are hints that Things Are Not What They Seem. That what they’re being told — they are astronauts training for a mission to Titan — is not actually what the guy in charge is planning. Maybe he’s a rogue scientist conducting illegal human experimentation on the sly. Our main character doctor will figure that out. Things will get fraught. Meanwhile, some of the subjects are having trouble adjusting to their new adaptations. They worked so hard to change the bodies, but they didn’t adapt their minds. (Titan touched on this, but went the easy route of turning the subjects into murder-creatures, which was really uninteresting.)

In the midst of this comes the tipping point:  our subjects are far enough along they can no longer survive in Earth’s atmosphere and the temperatures are too hot. They get hermetically sealed in their own environment. The conflicts between them come to a head. Our Doctor tries to break up a bloody fight — she’s in their enclosure in a full environmental suit — and gets seriously hurt. When she wakes back up/gets back to the lab, things have changed. She didn’t see it before because she was so close to them, but the test subjects are really really alien now. (The creature design on Titan was pretty good, I’ll give it points for that.) And the big brass has stepped in to take over the program from the questionable lead scientist. And they don’t see the test subjects as human. Our Doctor has to convince them. (The test subjects are all still wearing their uniforms. This is important. They look alien, but they also look like astronauts.) There’s an implication that if she doesn’t, the test subjects will be killed.

Meanwhile, the launch window to get them to Titan is closing. Our Doctor takes matters into her own hands and rallies the launch crew, her fellow doctors, etc., to get the surviving astronauts to the launch, to make sure the launch happens and they can fulfill their mission and do lots of awesome science on Titan.  And I hate to admit it but this is all going to look like the end of E.T. and I think that’s okay.

The end of the movie, Our Doctor gets a selfie of the three of them on the surface of Titan. It’ll be awesome.

**

So, as usual, I’m not offended that the movie was bad so much as I’m offended that this was a really great idea that was completely destroyed by really thoughtless writing and a cloying moppet (Isn’t it sweet that the kid still recognizes the alien as his father?! No. No it is not. It’s manipulative.). Now, I’m not actually going to write the above synopsis because I’m not all that interested in this specific story, to be honest. I think it would make a good movie. But all this ground has been covered in written SF.

What I am interested in, what I do think would make a great written story, is what happens 10 years later:  these radically altered astronauts have been living on Titan for 10 years. How are they doing? Hmm, must ponder…

 

Ready Player One

April 9, 2018

It was cute, it was funny. I kind of didn’t want to see it but it turned out fine. It’s a conventional heroic narrative, which made it almost seem quaint? I think all the changes made from the book are good ones done for good reasons, but then I thought the book was facile.

What did drive me utterly gonzo insane was the Manic Pixie Dream Gamer Girl. When Samantha shoves Wade out, telling him he’s their only hope, while she stays behind to get caught, I’m all WHY?! At this point they’ve each figured out a clue to win a key, they’re equally well-equipped to complete the quest, so why is he their only hope? Because he’s the hero and she’s the girlfriend, that’s why.

Also, it bothered me that the Iron Giant was used as a warbot. Just wasn’t right.

The best change I thought was expanding the references beyond “we’re all obsessed with the 80’s” to “we’re all obsessed with the things Halliday was obsessed with” which makes more sense story-wise and expands the available material. The Shining quest was hilarious. And my favorite call-out in the entire thing was the ship from the George Pal War of the Worlds, complete with the creepiest sound effect of all time.

My second favorite was “I choose Gundam.” YES.

 

Well, today I’m celebrating by coming down with a cold. And it’s snowing. Was in the 60’s yesterday. I should nap.

In the meantime, my latest movie review is in this month’s Lightspeed — I analyze Downsizing, a movie that pretty much nobody saw. I’m hoping to get to Ready Player One this weekend. I’m not particularly looking forward to it, oddly enough. My mistrust of nostalgia runs deep on this one.

Over on Wild Cards World, I write about That Time My Brother and I Did Wild Cards Cosplay but Couldn’t Leave the House. And can I just say that I’m so pleased to be getting back to cosplay, even just a little?

Ugh. Tea and naps.

 

Pacific Rim: Uprising

March 26, 2018

Well that was a heck of a lot of fun. It pushed a whole bunch of my buttons — the small military squad coming together for heroics, the awkward cadets who have to take over, the scrappy uber-competent teenage girl hero —

If you’re looking for something that’s exactly like the first one, with all the same characters and the same story beats, you won’t get it. But you know how the first one was a bunch of 1980’s anime tropes perfectly translated to live action? This is a bunch of different 1980’s anime tropes perfectly translated to live action. Sort of like the third season of Robotech v. the first.

But it was so much fun.

My prediction that all the jaegers would come together to form one giant jaeger did not happen.

At least, not exactly.