Distractions

Distractions are always a problem when writing. Sometimes it’s weather. Sometimes, it’s a new job. Sometimes it’s a new medication adjustment. The past few days have been all of the above. I am sitting at 3065 words out of the 50k target as of the moment. I’ve also discovered my latest distraction to add to those previously listed: Disney+.

For those waiting for a paycheck to subscribe, Disney+ is offering a 7-day free trial. So far Disney+ is amazing and the choice of things to watch is huge. For me, so far I’ve watched Star Wars (A New Hope) as a test of the service and I’ m stuck on watching the show Rebels.

For us, this is replacing Netflix for us and World of Warcraft for me. Though I’m starting to think this is going to be a much bigger distraction overall for me.

Brightburn

_____________________
Spoiler Alert:
While I normally attempt to avoid spoilers in discussions of movies and books, the nature of the story of this movie means the discussion necessarily involves some spoilers.
_____________________

Brightburn offers an unusual take on the superhero story. Although in some ways there’s elements here that remind one of M Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable trilogy, it is the Superman origin story that is important to be familiar with here.

Brightburn parallels the Superman story. Kyle and Tori Breyer replace Jonathan “Pa” and Martha “Ma” Kent. Brightburn, Kansas replaces Smallville, Kansas. Brandon Breyer replaces Clark Kent.

From the crash of Brandon’s spaceship on Earth through puberty, the story parallels that of Kal-El’s childhood from the Superman story. However, once the child hits puberty, the story takes a turn to address the nature versus nurture debate in terms of superhero stories.

Around the time of his 12th birthday, the young Brandon starts to develop abilities that are beyond the norm. Instead of a green glow and a message to protect the Earth, Brandon’s spaceship glows red and offers strange whispers in the night, hinting at a more ominous source than Jor-El and Krypton.

When he first comes in contact with his spaceship, Brandon, who up to this point in the story has never been cut or injured, is cut by a piece of the ship, which is also witnessed by his mother Tori, again paralleling that the one weakness Brandon has is similar to Clark’s kryptonite.

The origins of Brandon are left unrevealed in this story. However, the dark whispers to “Take the world”, the red glow of the spaceship, Brandon’s own acknowledgment of being “special” and “superior”, and the design of the mask Brandon takes to wearing as he goes about his actions hints at something Cthulhuish and Lovecraftian in origin.

The rest of the story is a play on the 12 year old Brandon discovering and using his powers to protect his powers and identity. Most of those who know Brandon’s secret, weakness, and identity are removed by the end.  The ending ambiguously offers the possibility of sequels and more stories to follow. As the closing credits run, they are interspersed with clips showing that Brandon’s actions stretch beyond the borders of the town of Brightburn and his alter ego is called “Brightburn” in the media.

Since this is billed as a horror movie, there are elements of horror gore in a few of the scenes, but otherwise, this is easily viewed as a superhero/supervillain origin movie. This is a must view for fans of superhero stories, fans of comic book movies, and those with an interest in the nature versus nurture debate.

Rocketman

_____________________
Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
_____________________

My wife and I watched the Elton John biopic Rocketman tonight. I was interested in this one mostly for the music, but after watching it, I love the storytelling techniques used.

The directors used two interesting techniques to tell this story. The first was the framework of using a 12-step rehab meeting with flashbacks, which I loved the overall framing this way.

One of my favorite movies is For the Love of the Game, and the the rehab flashbacks reminded me of the framework of nine innings of a baseball game that was used in that movie. It was an interesting and effective framework in both films.

The other interesting storytelling technique used in Rocketman was to use Elton John’s songs within the flashbacks to tell the story. It gave the film a kind of musical theater feel in addition to the rehab framing. At times, the song would be the bridge into the flashback. Other times, the song would be the bridge back into the rehab circle.

Some do not/will not be okay with the handling of his sexuality, and the fimmakers don’t try to pave over it the way the filmmakers of Bohemian Rhapsody did in the case of Freddie Mercury. In some ways this films plays out much like Elton’s story would in an actual 12-step meeting and it’s all laid out as a confession with the good, the bad, and the ugly on display.

Even if you don’t agree with Elton’s life, I still recommend this to anyone dealing with traditional 12-step issues as well as those of us using the 12-steps to work through other areas of our lives. It demonstrates that when we commit to the 12-steps, they actually work.

_____________________
Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
_____________________

Little Monsters

_____________________
Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
_____________________

So, Little Monsters is a movie that’s currently only available on Hulu. The Hulu description read:

A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies.

I’m not really a fan of zombie movies. I’ve seen most of the big ones, but they’re just not my thing. However, between the description and the promotional picture in Hulu, the same photo on the image above, I got a Shaun of the Dead vibe about this one. And since SotD is one of my favorite movies, zombie, comedy or otherwise, I decided to push “play”.

The opening credits and the first part of the movie is slow. Sadly, it’s rather painfully so, but once the “real” story of the movie starts up, it’s worth the wait.

Based in Australia, the real story starts up with the school kids going on a field trip to a petting zoo, which just so happens to be right next door to a super-secret U.S. military base testing facility. What could go wrong? Glad you asked. Everything you can imagine is the answer.

Somehow the field trip group featuring the main characters manages to avoid the big wave of zombie attacks before making it back to a souvenir shop where they prepare for what they believe will be their last stand. This group of kindergartners is dependent on a school teacher who plays a ukulele and sings Taylor Swift, a womanizing alcoholic children’s show star, and the unemployed slacker uncle of one of the kids, who’s only agreed to go on the field trip only to improve his chances of hitting on the teacher. The odds don’t seem to support these kids making it to the end of this movie.

Surprisingly, for a zombie movie, gore is on the minimal side, at least until the final battle. Also, surprising is the fact with gore toned down so much, the adult language usage is still heavy.

But despite the language and several inappropriate jokes, the movie ends up being pretty funny and sharing a story about adults who care, make the best of a bad situation, and keep the kids unaware of how much danger they are really in,

I recommend this one to fans of zombie movies, fans of Shaun of the Dead, and fans of just general absurd humor. It does take a bit for the real story to start up, but it’s a pretty fun ride once the real story starts.

_____________________
Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
_____________________

Aniara

_____________________
Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
_____________________

I watched the movie Aniara on Hulu this past week because the description about a doomed spaceship caught my eye.

After watching it and seeing it was based on a book, I requested the book from the library. I was not fully prepared for the book I received and read. The book edition I read was the out of print 1963 Hugh MacDiarmid and Elizabeth Harley Schubert translation of the poem.

Yes, you read that correctly. the Aniara story in its original form is a Swedish language, scifi, epic poem written by Harry Martinson. Epic poetry, or really any form of poetry, is a text form I’d never considered for scifi. Fantasy use of the epic poem and the poem makes sense to me because of Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene, but scifi never struck me as a poetry subject prior to encountering Martinson’s epic.

The stories retain similarities in poem and movie form. There are a few gender swaps of characters; however, the way the story progresses, these gender swaps actually serve to make the tragic tale all the more tragic.

The most startling part of this work is that I’d never encountered it in my readings across scifi and human nature considering the subject matter is so close and compatible to the tale of The Lord of the Flies and The Heart of Darkness. While both of those stories focused on behavioral reactions to removed supervision, Martinson’s story deals with the emotional and mental side of how people deal with the knowledge that they have no hope of salvation from their situation.

At times chaotic, at times primal, at times shocking, both epic poem and scifi movie first ask the reader/viewer how would you handle and endure in similar circumstances? Then they counter your positive answer with the question of are you sure?

This is a must-see and a must-read for any fan of scifi period. If you’re reading on evolutionary psychology and studies of human nature, this should be added to your parables of human nature set as Volume Three (the society/the species) after Volume One: The Heart of Darkness (the individual) and Volume Two: The Lord of the Flies (the group). For everyone else, I say just check it out in both forms. As far as movies go, it’s a fantastic film. As far as books go, how many scifi epic poems have you read?

_____________________
Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
_____________________

Godzilla: King of the Monsters

_____________________
Note:
I will avoid spoilers here and request that any comments remain spoiler free as well.
_____________________

I’ve always been a fan of monster movies, especially ones with the giant monsters sometimes referred to as kaiju. So I’m always looking for new movies and even sequels in this subgenre.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (GKotM) has been on my watch wishlist since I first saw the preview during my viewing of Avengers: Endgame. My only regret in watching this one was not getting a chance to see it on the big screen when it was out. There’s definitely some scenes that are made to be seen on the big screen, or even better on the IMAX.

It’s a sequel that’s not a sequel in the traditional sense. There are some characters who carry over from the previous film, but the focus of this one is a family who was tragically affected by the events in San Francisco during the first film. However, if you missed the first one, not to worry, a short catch-up clip is offered to demonstrate that this is the same world, but these are different reactions to the events that happened then.

All the big themes of Godzilla and kaiju movies are here. Mankind (read the military) panics and creates a worse situation for the humans. Scientists, who warned of the dire consequences of military action, pull an amazing solution out of their hind quarters to get things back on track. Cities are destroyed. Military vehicles crash. Humans scramble around on the ground as the big fight monsters duke it out in the big fight scenes.

My only real negative on this movie is I’m not a fan of Serj Tankian version of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”. (Sorry Serj.) I’m just too much a fan of the original song, but even not caring for the song isn’t enough to make this a bad movie.

If you’re a fan of Godzilla, monster movies, or kaiju, this is one you don’t want to miss. Besides, you can’t go wrong with a movie that has a very promising post-credit scene, credits paying tribute to the creators of Godzilla, and listing Godzilla, Ghidorah, and Rodan in the credits as playing “himself” and Mothra as playing “herself”.

_____________________
Note:
I again request that any comments remain spoiler free.
_____________________

Captive State

When I first saw a preview for the movie Captive State, I had high hopes for this film. I was expecting something along the lines of Netflix’s film Extinction, or the USA series The Colony, or the TNT series Falling Skies but with a bigger budget.

Sadly, what I expected and hoped for is not what I got to see. The dystopian elements that the previews promise and used to sell the movie get lost in The Wire-style questionable grey-area cops verses questionable grey-area “terrorists” storyline. The result is Captive State has more in common with the Bruce Willis/Denzel Washington movie The Siege or the Will Smith film Enemy of the State, but not as well acted.

Captive State is not all bad. John Goodman delivers an excellent performance as William Mulligan in a performance on par with Jon Simm’s portrayal of Sam Tyler in the series Life on Mars. The big reveal of Goodman’s character is probably one of the worst kept secrets in the film, and once made, it makes the viewer’s feelings of dislike towards the character seem all the more justified.

My recommendation is read the synopsis of this one and move along in favor of one of the other tv series or movies mentioned above. You’ll feel more invested in the characters and actual care when bad thigns happen to them.