So... I saw Suicide Squad and I actually really liked it but mostly because I expected it to really suck and was pleasantly surprised at how much less than completely sucky it was. So hurrah for relativism.
Sadly the negative reviews are spot on about the film, though some are a little nitpicky. On the other hand, the positive fan response isn't completely unjustified either, though maybe a little in denial.
For someone who is already a fan, there are some legitimately likeable things in this film, but isn't necessarily what you were expecting from watching the trailers. The right components are there (some of them anyway), but they maybe could've been assembled together better.
"How it Should Have Ended" has a great review on YouTube. I thought I would riff on that a little because it got me thinking: What is this movie really about and what should a movie like this be about? How do you say to a movie fairly, "You were supposed to be about something other than this," and be right. No one was disappointed that Saving Private Ryan didn't explore the divisive themes of slavery vs states' rights vs federal government that the Civil War provokes, because it wasn't about that war. Nobody says to Back to the Future that the romance is under-cooked and the drama is hyperbolic because it's a fun buddy adventure series, not HBO. But people will complain that the new Star Trek isn't "cerebral" or "socially relevant" enough or that it's too "action-packed" and has too many lens flares (for the record, I love the new Star Trek Beyond, but we'll talk about that another time). People also complain about Star Wars, the same way, "It's not like [fill in the blank] enough."
So as much as I could write a blog about the origin of fan expectations and whether they are valid or not, instead I'm going to explore the concept of Theme in story. I believe that every good story has a theme or two and whether or not you are satisfied at the end is dependent upon whether that theme was coherent and properly depicted from start to finish.
If there is a problem with Suicide Squad, it is that there is no coherent theme. There are hints of a theme here and there, and echoes of accepted genre tropes we're used to seeing elsewhere so much that we almost don't question them here, but nothing internally consistent. This could be the byproduct of too many changes to the film in post-production or differing opinions on final edits of the film. Or just lazy writing.
So here is what I think the theme should've been...
Alright future fans, you got me.
That was a trick title.
I implied that I had a solution to a writing problem and you clicked to see what it might be in the hopes that it would help jump-start your stalled out sci-fi short story.
I don't have the secret answer, I'm sorry to admit. But I do think it's worth exploring the problem. And what is that problem, you ask?
Well, it's not writer's block. Lots of people get writer's block and lots of people write about how they get writer's block (instead of just plain writing), and lots of people write about how to overcome writer's block (when they should be writing about just plain writing). So needless to say, I'm not jumping into that pool.
But what do you do when it's not writer's block that's holding up your story?
What makes a story? Easy. Once upon a time: A bunch of stuff happens. The end.
Anyone can tell that story. “Hey, I was driving down the road and saw this guy spin out on the ice and crash into the ditch along Route 5. It was crazy.”
But what makes a story good? I used to think it was strong character motivation. Don't people say, "Character is King"? If you knew what a character wanted and why they wanted it, it would make the things that happen more interesting and entertaining. “That wasn’t just any guy. That was my roommate, Jeff! He’s always late for work and his boss told him if he’s late one more time, he’s fired.”
Welcome Back, future fans, for Part III of my Force Awakens coverage!
I sort of have a secret hobby inside my brain when I watch movies or read certain books where I like to daydream what I might have done different. Just for fun. You know, because I'm a writer and stuff and sometimes I have to rework my own stories in this same fashion. It's like practice. It starts out with a phone call from someone really important like JJ Abrams. He calls me in to view the finished script of The Force Awakens and he asks my advice as a well-respected and acclaimed script-doctor to help him make it even better...
So in that scenario, these are the things I might suggest to promising young upstart filmmaker JJ Abrams for Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens (The Perkins Edition)...
Welcome Back Future Fans for Part II of my positive reflections on Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the first part focused on the memorable lines of the movie, here I will focus on the memorable moments.
Original and Memorable Moments:
Despite claims of riffing on old ideas and reveling in nostalgia, there are enough unique ideas to cement The Force Awakens as a key episode in the series. Though there are carryovers of course and recurring elements, every installment of the series has always prided itself on providing at least something new and unique that you'll never see anywhere else, sometimes not even in another Star Wars film. Remember the garbage compactor in the first film, or the first time we saw AT-AT walkers slowly creep up on the Rebel base in the snow? Return of the Jedi is the only place you can see the Sarlac Pit or those cute Ewoks. Even from the prequels you had the Pod Race sequence in Phantom Menace and the gladiator's arena in Attack of the Clones. My nephew won't shut up about General Grievous, as if he's the heart and soul of Star Wars, but he can only be found in Episode III (thank god). Like all those films, I think we will one day look back on The Force Awakens with a little more appreciation for what it did in fact add to our favorite galaxy, far, far away. Some of these may turn out to be the beginning of recurring concepts, like Jabba the Hutt, or Yoda, who were both original and unique but later appeared repeatedly, while others may be one-offs, never to be seen again no matter how popular, like Cloud City, Darth Maul's double lightsaber, or Jengo Fett.
Wow, that's one helluva movie!
After seeing the new Star Wars movie three times, I feel ready to see it three more.
I'm pretty sure this post took me so long that just about everyone has finally gotten tired of complaining about the new Star Wars. The underlying plot structure is derivative and unoriginal; the new characters are too adept at whatever skill gets them out of trouble; the turning points are all conveniently timed. There. It's been said. Moving on.
With the complaints out of the way (and having already been given way too much time in the limelight as it is) I thought I'd take some time to remind everyone just how much of the film was brilliant and why in spite of the valid concerns above, the experience was incredible. On a movie rating scale of 1 thru 10, The Force Awakens ranks as Star Wars. That says it all. Years from now I am confident pop culture will look back on this film with fond memories and fans will overlook quibbles like those mentioned above the same way they overlook the Ewoks, or Luke's whiny power converters at Tashi Station.
The following is my list of reason why I think The Force Awakens will stand the test of time:
The new X-Files have hit the airwaves and there hasn't been this level of fan interest since the late 90's movie took the titular series to the big-screen in a film with maybe the greatest name ever: Fight the Future. Man! With a name like that, the movie could be about so many things, and I'd still want to see all of them!
Since my future fans are still safely in the future awaiting my inevitable sophomore release (that's writer-speak for my next book) there isn't a whole lot to blog about on that front. Yes, I'm still writing. The current story could be described as Django Unchained meets... well, Lorna Lockheed, of course. But my point is, I need something else to blog about in the meantime if I intend to tell people I still have a blog. Just kidding. I don't tell people that. And if I do, it's more like a whisper but they aren't listening anyway.
So until I finish my needlessly long (and self-indulgent) Star Wars: The Force Awakens post, a little X-Files will have to do.
Hey future fans,
People are starting to talk and you don't want to be left out of the conversation.
What exactly are they saying? The first reviews are in and you can find them on Amazon or Goodreads already. Don't see your name at the tops of those particular glowing reviews? That's because you didn't write one yet, but there's still time to get in on the fun. Lots of people check in on Lorna every day and without a good review to reassure them, they might not know what they're missing!
In other news: Twentieth Century Eve is now available at a local Winona, MN bookstore called The Book Shelf! You can find them on 2nd Street connected to the Blue Heron cafe which is a great place to brunch and browse some other great local reading material. They specialize in local authors and hold all kinds of fun readings and signings. Who knows, you might find me there yourself, one day soon...
And as a public service, I have also made copies available at the Winona Public Library as well as the Prairie du Chien Public Library. Ask the foxy lady at the desk about where they're located. Possibly Young Adult, possibly History... probably just under fiction.
We're nearing 75 copies sold, folks, another nice round milestone. And as much as I appreciate the monetary support, don't forget to read it! Studies show that 100% of those who read about Lorna Lockheed love Lorna Lockheed! And so far everyone who loves Lorna Lockheed loves to share her with friends. So get the word out because Christmas is just around the corner everyone knows books are a safe gift for family members you really don't know what else to buy anyway!
For now, though, it's Thanksgiving. So Thank You to everyone who has told me they liked what they read, either in person or online. And to everyone who has bought a copy on good faith not knowing what the heck I'm talking about when I say "it's a sci-fi western but it's good, I promise!" I appreciate each and every one of you.
See you in the future,
Hey all you future fans, most of you have found time to get your exclusive copy of Twentieth Century Eve, but some of you are hesitant. I understand. You just got out of a long book and it left you heartbroken and alone. You're not sure if you're ready for another commitment. You've had your fill of magic schools and teenage vampires and dystopian revolutionaries and you're afraid of getting lured back into some melodramatic genre pulp fiction quadrilogy or whatever.
Well rest assured, Lorna Lockheed won't leave you lovelorn and bored! Get to know her a little. You might like her.
I've posted a few excerpts from the book so you can get a taste of your favorite future fandom. Think of it like a casual meet and greet. No pressure. Just a little fun. If you like what you see, you'll know what to do...
Today I signed my first autograph. Two of them in fact! Congratulations to Erin and Jada for being quick on the ball point pen. Future commodities inspectors will look back to this blog for authentication purposes. Be sure to buy a second reading copy so you can keep your original in a hermetically sealed safety deposit box!
Special acknowledgements for Mike buying both the first paperback and the first e-book! Good response time, Mike, let us know which one ends better!
Also, quintuple-thanks to Tracey for setting the purchase record at five copies! I hope each one is better than the last!
Lastly but not leastly, the long-distance award goes to Jim-Tom in India (at least, I think that's where he is... so hard to keep track of you, man!) Let me know how that southern slang translates in Malayalam!
Thank you all, though! Sales are cruising through the roof! They are up over two-thousand percent from this time last year. It seems I am an inter-dimensional sensation that can't be stopped! The Mirror Universe just requisitioned a million more copies and the Negative Zone is sold out!
Back in the real world, you can find me this weekend in Winona, MN at the corner of 5th and Main for my first ever live appearance and book signing! See my previous blog post for more info!
Even though the printer still has to physically produce your copy especially for you after you order it, I have numerous reports of delivery in less than a week! If you've gotten one already, feel free to post your results on the site! I'd love to hear how the quality came out, what the delivery time was, and most importantly, how beautiful that bonus art is in the back! If you think you can do better, well, just send it to me, I'd love to see it!
See you in the future,