Thursday, April 25, 2013

Thoughts on the First Hour of "The Hobbit"

When Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” was released in December of 2012, I should have wanted to see it. I enjoyed the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy immensely, no small feat for someone who has always found Tolkien’s storybook prose mostly unreadable. Still, the ideas he conjured were wondrous and, in the hands of a gifted filmmaker hungry to do something epic, made for great trips to the movies.

Flash forward roughly a decade and the Emperor suddenly has holes in his underwear. Having spent the better part of those ten years in so-called development hell, Jackson returned to the franchise what made him and decided to once again take the reins in a two-film opus that told the story of Bilbo Baggins and his early adventures.  Then it became three films…based on a single novel that isn’t even very long. That was already a red flag for me, then that pesky Quentin Tarantino went and released a movie I actually cared about.

It wasn’t difficult to prioritize “Django Unchained” over Jackson’s film. Not only had I been looking forward to QT’s “southern” for well over a year, but I’m not exactly the biggest fan of traditional fantasy.

So, I went and saw “Django” twice, a friend and I reasoning that “The Hobbit’s” massive box office success precluded any need for us to contribute our funds to the effort. We didn’t know “Django” would also be huge. Not that huge, anyway.

Finally, I sat down at home with a DVD copy of “The Hobbit” and prepared to be at least somewhat as enchanted as I had been a decade before. And I waited…and waited…and moaned…and yawned…and laughed once…and finally at the one hour mark said, “Okay, this is where I officially check out.”

The scene in question featured some comedy relief slapstick bullshit characters with hideous appearances and goofy personalities whacking each other in the heads with spoons. Suddenly, I understood all too well.

The first three films, which actually take place sixty years later than the events in this new ones, were films about something more than a boring quest to save a city. They were about epic, sweeping change and the large and small characters swept up in that change. The humor flowed from the situations and never brought the story to a screeching halt.

By contrast, “The Hobbit” feels like a child’s movie with loud, obnoxious characters each displaying shtick before moving to the next set piece.  New characters are dull and uninteresting and characters we thought we knew are practically unrecognizable. Young Bilbo is a colossal bore with none of the emotional resonance of Frodo who, by the way, seems rather stoic and mature in his flashback sequences with older Bilbo. Gandalf seems centuries older and weaker than in the films taking place six decades later.

After a solid hour of tortoise-like pacing and nothing and no one to care about, at least the effects work should be top-notch, right? No. In fact, it’s terrible. I fail to understand how the CGI looks cheaper and less believable than in a film ten years older. The Orcs are laughably fake looking.

My first instinct was correct. Something about the trailer assured me I would be disappointed and I am. Just like the second Nolan Batman or the original Matrix, this film has insured I won’t be seeing the sequel. Hell, I couldn’t even watch the remaining two hours for fear of losing precious lifespan time! It's possible I've "outgrown" films like this, but I like to think even my waning interest in genre could have been pushed aside for another great Jackson film, which this most certainly is not.




Voluted Tales: A Study in Consummate Professionalism

A few months ago, when Mark Turner, EIC and publisher of Voluted Tales announced the online magazine's relaunch, I was apparently one of the first to submit a short story for their consideration. Somewhere along the way, the story got lost. At least, that's Mark's story, and he's sticking to it. I like to think its brilliance was so stunning, it caused temporary memory loss and hysterical blindness.

Mark wrote, "I'm not sure who did it, but the content panel of the submission has been wiped accidentally by one of the staffers and we don't have a back up." He asked if I wouldn't mind resubmitting it directly to him. Since it had been a while, he wanted to read the story personally. He also did something that impressed me no end: He vowed to get back to me the following morning. Then he did something even more bizarre: HE KEPT HIS WORD!

As if that wasn't satisfactory, he also accepted the story for publication. Below is what he sent me regarding the story. Keep in mind that whenever someone from the UK uses the phrase "Go down," I titter like a schoolgirl because its meaning on this side of the pool is rather...different.

Morning Christopher,
At least I think it's still morning over there, I'm running a little late.
I think Fly Wielder will do just fine. Clean, well-told and an original idea. It'll go down a treat.


Anyway, the story will see publication sometime around the fifteenth of May. This is a story I've been struggling with for years and I'd finally done a massive edit/rewrite thanks to the suggestions of someone on another online magazine's message board. This is why listening is good. .

I'll pass the soapbox to someone else now. Mark Turner and Voluted Tales is a class act and I am beyond pleased to be welcomed aboard by them~

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Latest Upcoming Short Story.

Author/Publisher Trico Lutkins, my latest literary homey, has accepted my decade-old, previously unpublished tale of a patriotic superhero trying to remain relevant in a cynical world for the "Alter Egos Volume One" anthology. It's being published through Source Point Press, his publishing company.

Below is an image of the upcoming book. I simply adore the cover, dahlink!

Trico's having each story presented with its own illustrated cover, which is a great idea. Can't wait to see what mine looks like! I'm also happy this story has finally been completed and accepted. It's always been near and dear, based mainly on the fact that it's an affectionate homage to the genre that made me want to write in the first place.

More to come~

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Quote of the Week.

“And one day, you realize that your copy of Atlas Shrugged belongs in the same milk crate as your beer helmet and the t-shirt that looks like a tuxedo, and you move on. Unless you’re Paul Ryan or Rand Paul.”
-Bill Maher