Friday, 14 November 2014

Soapboxing in Writing

Now some people reading this may not quite know what soapboxing is. Well it's a rather old expression relating to raising an impromptu platform and giving a speech. In terms of writing it's the idea that an author uses his works as a platform to wax on about his philosophy or ideologies. Many authors do this intentionally or unintentionally, in fact I agree with David Weber when he says that, "In other words, while no writer can avoid stepping up onto a soap box, whether he wants to or not, when he starts writing military or political fiction, I am perfectly willing to subordinate my personal views on many of these questions to the strength of the storyline I'm working with." [1]

However, I believe that no matter what genre a writer steps in to he/she is going to be soapboxing or at least pushing some of their ideology into the work. This can be because of their world view, their opinion on a certain subject, or more importantly, how they perceive the world around them, which always colors an authors work no matter how much they may try to avoid it.


The being said there are some who soapbox more than others. 


I've read a large number of books which wax on philosophically about their authors personal beliefs or the way the world ought to work in their eyes. In fact a large number of them can even be entertaining in spite of the heavy handed anvil which the author drops on your head. A good example of a decent soapbox would be Michael Z. Williamson's Freehold, which is basically a libertarian screed on everything from war, to nudism. While finding many of the political positions and parts of the philosophy utterly absurd, the story they were wrapped in made it all so fascinating. The characters had some depth to them and weren't simply walking mouthpieces for the ideology and had quirks and flaws of their own. Not War and Peace but still some fun popcorn reading that you can sit back and enjoy.


Now as a counterpoint to that of course is a book written completely as an ideological rant. Atlas Shrugged being the go to example, but I'd like to cite a book I reviewed waaaay back when, is a truly terrible book called Enemies Foreign and Domestic by Mathew Bracken. While Atlas Shrugged is a bloated book that wallows in its own self-importance this book is taken by the author as both a realistic expression of the world at large and a wonderful example of how to cram lots of hate speech into one novel, then build a trilogy around it. Basically it's an authors anger filled rant against society and how evil his political opposites are. The characters are flat, rather boring and two dimensional, and the villains are such thin cardboard cut outs it doesn't even merit calling them caricatures. In short it is every example of how not to write a novel.


Not to sound like I'm picking on the right wing here's a left wing ideological spout called Christian Nation which in short is about how American right wing Christians are secretly plotting to install a theocracy in America and undermine it's Constitution and the march of progress. Basically it's an excuse for the author to cry wolf and talk about the evil religious people he doesn't like. It makes about as much sense as Enemies but is probably less offensive to the average person in its insanity. The characters there too are flat, shallow, and two dimensional and the work again wallows in its own self-importance about the message it is delivering while spooning out a heavy dose of cultural/intellectual elitism that is distinctly uncomfortable.


Now here I've just been highlighting the worst examples of soapboxing in fiction, when there are in fact excellent examples that can be found which don't bludgeon you over the head with the ideas and ideology that don't go out of their way to offend you. In stark counterpoint to the previous work you have Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale a deep and emotional piece which caricatures the extreme right wing beliefs of Christian Fundamentalists. You also have George Orwell's 1984 which is a piece taking totalitarianism to its logical extreme. Each of these pieces is a masterpiece of the genre and rightly so.


This isn't just in books written as political tracts though. In fantasy you have men like Brandon Sanderson who insert their own beliefs on human nature into their works by how the characters themselves act and view the world, and it balances out well between the heroes and the villains who all have deep three dimensional reasons for their actions. Then you have someone like Terry Goodkind who, although he writes arguably some fantastic work, can let his own political agenda seep in at inopportune moments. Though he is still an excellent writer. As fun as Richard is, it can be rather distracting when he gets caught up in a situation where he has to deliver a rant on why organized sports is stupid[2].


To that end I would just like to point out it isn't a bad thing to let your beliefs influence your work. It's probably impossible for you to not let them influence it. However, there is a way you can do it that it will stand out as a classic versus a heap of unintelligible garbage that only a few radicals will ever appreciate. Your story, as always, takes precedent over your ideological views, and it has to be a story that manages to flow with your ideology. The ideology should guide the story, not take it over.


It's possible that someone with some unorthodox beliefs out there might have the next 1984 in the making, but they just can't find a way to get their Winston to not be a cardboard cut out with human emotions and desires because they can't think how that interacts with their ideology. My advise is think of the human element first, and the ideological element second. If you can't find a rational way to have people react to your ideology or philosophy, then it's probably not one humans are capable of adhering to anyways.


========


[1] David Weber FAQ's: How close are the parallels in the Honorverse politics and our present day politics?


[2] No really this is actually part of the plot in the book Confessor. Even if it is sort of a blood sport.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Why I Prefer AD vs. CE

Well recently in one of my Christianity classes we got into the topic of what BCE and CE means, and contrary to some, no it does not mean 'Christian Era' instead it is a 'neutral' term meaning 'Common Era' which is supposed to define the commonly used dating system in the modern era. Now understand this, the debate over the use of Common Era (or BCE/CE vs. BC/AD) is not a modern phenomenon, in fact the use of CE goes back nearly 400 years with the first use of CE appearing in Latin in 1615 and English in 1708 showing that, despite what some would think, we are not unique in attempting to change the dating system.

Now here's the thing, most arguments against the use of BC/AD are those who are attempting to pursue an idea of 'religious tolerance' or pluralism and inclusiveness in the dating system adopted by the world in an attempt to be more neutral to the global community. Never mind that this in and of itself is absurd since the Gregorian Calender itself was foisted on the globe through the imposition of European ideas on local cultures completely upending their own way of time telling and was thus imposed by force. Nor does it take into account already existing counter calender systems which are explicitly religiously based (such as the Muslim calender or the Japanese calender which measures the year from when the first emperor sat on the throne). It also ignores the fact that the Gregorian Calender currently has religious ties to ancient religions built into it (the months and days being named after gods). The most important thing too is that for all intents and purposes the global community uses this calender for convenience sake.

However, what grinds my gears about the idea is that rather than attempt to remove any connection to previous time keeping or cultural strata they simply adapt the 'Christian' calender making the change completely cosmetic and utterly pointless. In that same vein I sincerely doubt that most people, even of other religions, sincerely object to the use of this type of Calender or really notice it at all to begin with. This despite earlier arguments in history mostly to avoid the idea of national dating systems or using the year of a rulers reign to denote the time period.

Now the plainly reactionary part of my little essay here, functionally and culturally there is absolutely no need to change the dating system effectively in use for hundreds of years (well in the Western world at least) and reasons at changing it because it might 'offend' are laughable since it was through Western cultural hegemony which the current dating system became 'common'.

Though as a little aside, let me just offer up one suggestion to those who wish to make a 'neutral' dating system. Rather than simply trying to rewrite the current calender in a pointless PC exercise, how about just starting a new dating system? I know it's harder than just cosmetically altering the one we currently have, but at least it's more intellectually honest.

Here's a thought, how about we celebrate one of man's crowning achievements as the new more neutral dating system? Let us hypothesize that we can start if from October 4th 1957, when Sputnik was placed in orbit and man finally had access to the high frontier. We can say that starting that day is a new era (or hell just starting on the new year of 1958 for convenience sake) and every year after (we can say that the time from October 4th to December 31st is the 'year zero') becomes a year of the new Cosmic Era (CE). That would make today September 14th 57 CE. Rejoice for one of the greatest moments of mankind's history!

Now that may seem just silly, but it's a hell of a lot more honest than just trying to tie in an idea to the existing dating system. It has worked without popular complaint for the last hundred years (or I suppose technically since we started the Gregorian calender). To me though it is just as silly to implement a cosmetic change which no one really cares about, and no great majority is asking for.

This is one of those traditions I will gladly stick too.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Flashing Steel Flashing Fire: A Short Story Collection.

Well readers here I being you another excellent review. I have given some glowing reviews of the works of author Matthew Quinn's work before. Here though I offer you the opportunity to enjoy all of Quinn's published works, as well as three new stories as yet seen by the world in one easy reading location.

I present to you, Flashing Steel and Flashing Fire!



This is of course an anthology, making it one of Quinn's longest published works so far. I've reviewed some of the stories available in the publication already, so I think I'll just stick to talking about two of the stories contained herein.

The first new story I'd like to talk about is Nicor. Nicor is a sort of combination period piece combined with a horror story. Here we have the Vikings taking on an eerie mythological swamp beast in a battle to the death and they find their weapons and courage almost useless when fighting the beast. Its interesting as it's told through the POV of a young first time raider who has never been a-reaving before. His nervousness and uncertainty paint a vivid contrast to the experienced raiders he stands beside. With a fun twist at the end it's a delight.

Next we have Lord Giovanni's daughter. I have to admit that this one was the most difficult for me to read, not because it was a bad story, but because I have very little point of reference for the villainous reptilians who populated the story. Imagining them was difficult so it took me a while to properly get into it, but once I did we had the right amount of wit and creativity to make for a fascinating read!

The next new piece is the very interesting prologue to an aborted fantasy series called Lord of the Dolorous Tower. This one is interesting as it has a fascinating blend of post-apocalyptic fiction and high fantasy. The characters are essentially two lovable rogues from their village who go exploring an old tower. It offers some fascinating ground work for a world in which it is suffering from an asteroid strike. It deals with some fascinating magic and world building while giving us a great romp with these two explorers, though it is a wee bit dark I'll just say.

Finally we have the ending piece Westernmost Throne. It's a 'political' horror story which is fairly unique in and of itself. It follows the tale of a young political secretary who discovers she may be in just a tad over her head when her up and coming political boss turns out to be more than he seems... I won't say too much here as it needs to be read to be appreciated. This one certainly subverts expectations! I can say I quite enjoyed it and I think you will too!

Now that't it for all the new material, but it has a number of old favorites like Melon Heads and Illegal Aliens! If you've ever read any of Matthew Quinn's work before I highly recommend you pick this piece up! It's a fantastic anthology and as I've said before, Mr. Quinn does not disappoint.

So I heartily encourage you to go pick it up!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Godzilla (2014)

Well readers here is my review of the much anticipated new Godzilla epic. What do I think? Well, as Godzilla films go, it's not great, and here's why!



On a minor note this review will contain minor spoilers for the film.

The 2014 reboot of Godzilla has been much anticipated by Godzilla, kaiju, and action movie fans since it the announcement came out, I know I certainly was. Here's the thing, I love Godzilla, and giant monster films, and I loved the 1998 Godzilla film and despite what many felt I think it was a good monster flick. There were reasons that I actually think the 1998 film topped this one. It will take some time to explain but let me just start with the cast.

Starring in this feature are a few big names, first comes the actor who was shown over and over in the trailers, Bryan Cranston, the star of Breaking Bad and a wonderful actor to boot. From the trailers you would believe he is being paired with Ken Watanabe as a science/conspiracy tag team bent on unraveling the mystery of Godzilla and why he's come to earth. Unfortunately the real story is much less compelling.

It starts off well with Wantanabe's character (and the mysterious group Monarch) discovering a cavern which held a giant monster of some kind. It then cuts to the Janjira nuclear plant where a mysterious disaster takes place where Cranston's character loses his wife. Then there is a time jump 15 years later (to 2014) which sees Cranston's grown up son going after his father who has snuk into the Quarantine Zone around Janjira. From here though the story goes to focus on the son (Ford) played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. Unfortunately Cranston steals every scene from Johnson, he just has more presence and personality while Johnson has little to work with save for one emotional scene where they discuss the death of his mother.

Sadly following a bit of an underwhelming scene where they sneak into the quarantine zone there is some mildly interesting dialogue where we just miss out on Wantanabe and Cranston sharing the scene but are treated to a spectacular visual of the emergence of the films opponent creature, the MUTO. Then though (spoilers) Cranston's character dies in the ensuing chaos, and despite a set up where Wantanabe and Cranston could be working together he is killed off, and instead we have to follow Johnson's character, Lt. Ford, who just doesn't have the same screen presence, nor a very compelling story to follow.

Here's an image of a MUTO toy


Having not seen Kick Ass I can't comment on any of his previous starring roles, but here in Godzilla he's just flat. To be fair he isn't given much to work with save for bouncing from plot device to plot device, and some of his scenes are so badly done that I just had to groan at their execution. For instance, in one scene which is supposed to be suspenseful he becomes a glorified babysitter for a while. Honestly it was almost painful to watch as he was shunted from one scene to another with almost no direction other than "get back to wife and kids". It was shallow, predictable, and pretty boring to watch while we waited for the monsters to show up.

Oh yes I suppose I ought to mention that for a Godzilla movie there isn't much Godzilla. We don't see the title monster until well over an hour into the film (unless you count the distinctive back scales). Then when we do see him in his full glory for the first time it's briefly before cutting away to watching a kid watch a news report about two monsters fighting.

Now wrap your head around what I just said, there is massive set up for Godzilla to appear on screen, and some set up for the MUTO and it's action, but the first time we see them together the film cuts away to a kid watching a news report about them. I was shocked and nearly enraged when I realized that a character in the film I'm watching is watching a better film than I am. The first big monster fight is barely glimpsed through a secondary source on screen and then we cut away to after the monster fight with Johnson's character trying to again reunite a random kid with his parents.

Well I didn't pay to see a kid get reunited with his family, I paid to see giant monsters fight. Here's the problem with this film though, it teases the monsters, especially Godzilla. We get flashes of him, brief scenes of monster fights, and random cuts of him tearing around. It's almost like the movie was afraid to show the monsters extensively on screen. I don't know why, they look amazing, they move well, are animated well, and all around look fantastic. The one scene where we get a clear shot of the fight it is amazing! Hell I almost cried when I saw Godzilla breathe his traditional fire in glorious modern animation!



The fact that it looks so wonderful makes the lack of monster's on screen even more baffling. It's almost as though the film runners are trying to make it a horror film.

Let me just say that this film is brilliantly visualized, the production values are amazing, it looks wonderful and when the two monsters clash like forces of nature it's as though you're seeing a hurricane in a slap down with a tornado. It is beautifully destructive!

It doesn't answer the question of why the film doesn't show the monsters more though. To me it seems as though they are working from a script which was only half finished, or had been cobbled together from various ideas. It doesn't seem like a complete story was set down, and it almost seems as though it was just put together from other ideas and added up for convenience. To be honest I'm not even sure they knew where the plot wanted to go.

All in all the few minutes of film with monster fights are beautiful, however, they are dragged down by an aimless plot and flat characters which aren't even bad enough to be vehicles for giant monster fights, in fact the giant monster fights are just vehicles for the flat characters and aimless plot!

Though the film is sometimes boring and a little dull, it makes up for it with the occasional monster action and simply gorgeous visuals (the HALO jump scene is phenomenal) I would say it is alright. I don't think it's the cult classic that it could have been, but overall its worth seeing once, at least for the monster fight.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

I VILL TAKE OVER ZE WORLD…Or Will I?

In relation to my previous review about Picking Up Plans in Palma here now is a guest post from blogger/writer Matthew Quinn! Let him take it away with a little treatise on World Domination!

Guest Post by Matthew W. Quinn

In fiction, whenever there’s an Evil Empire to be found, world domination is their goal. S.M. Stirling’s Draka believed their social system could not survive so long as there was any alternative and so sought self-preservation through world domination. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sauron called himself King of Men and Lord of the Earth. There’s plenty of real-life precedent — Hitler sought to dominate Europe and in his second book revealed he thought that a Nazified Europe’s last and greatest enemy would be the United States. The first Soviet leaders believed in World Revolution and even Stalin’s “socialism in one country” was not a permanent renunciation of that goal. Even Osama bin Laden, a pirate rather than a Dark Lord, demanded the United States convert to Islam.

In the Afrikanerverse, the world where “Coil Gun” and “Picking Up Plans In Palma” take place, there was no Nazism, this world’s version of WWII destroyed the USSR and its motley collection of “anti-imperialist” allies, and an early chastisement of the Wahabis left radical Islam a purely local phenomenon. Instead, the Evil Empire is the Afrikaner Confederation, a white supremacist (for a certain value of “white” that changes based on geography and political convenience) empire stretching from Cape Town to the southern fringes of the Sudan and from the Bight of Biafra across the Red Sea and southern Arabia into India and southeast Asia. Alongside a collection of traditionalist and authoritarian allies like the Hejaz, an enlarged Persia, a Sikh regime governing our world’s Pakistan, and the Kingdom of Thailand, the Afrikaners stand for what they view as traditional values and God-ordained hierarchies in the face of the corrosive Enlightenment liberalism characterizing the United States and its allies in the League of Democracies.

And unlike in our world, this Cold War ends with a bang rather than a whimper. “Coil Gun” takes place the opening night of WWIII, in which the Afrikaners use Australian backing for Indian nationalist rebels and refusal to submit to their vengeful demands as a casus belli to launch a nuclear first-strike on the United States.

What is the Afrikaners’ aim? Some Americans would claim this was the Confederation’s long-awaited bid for world domination, to impose their hierarchical social order and stern religion on all mankind. And it’s not like there wouldn’t be members of the Confederation’s ruling Theonomic Party eager “to bring the whole world into obedience to Christ.”

However, despite both sides’ lip service, the Confederation’s war aims are surprisingly limited for something that looks like a grab for all the marbles. They’re more interested in destroying all League members and allies on their immediate borders in Africa, Asia, and the Indian Ocean, either conquering them outright or reducing them to puppets. Returning Europe and the United States to the faith once for all delivered unto the saints, though a welcome thought, is not a realistic aim, and crippling the League of Democracies militarily and economically for a generation or more will work just as well. It’s true that history has seen conquerors try to take on everybody at once (most fail sooner or later, but some do well), but most conquerors have far more limited aims. Not only are the Afrikaners generally a prudent people, but picking a fight with the Chinese Empire (a neutral Great Power they’re sparred with before) at the same time they challenge this world’s NATO (spanning Europe, North America, and Japan) would daunt all but the most deranged.


Unfortunately (for the Afrikaners), as depicted in “Coil Gun,” things don’t work out. Always remember how no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. In this case, despite the Afrikaners shooting first, the League of Democracies’ orbital military infrastructure is able to not only withstand their attack and prevent significant damage to their respective homelands but totally devastates the Afrikaners and their allies. This is what happens when you don’t educate most of your population to the degree needed for them to reach their full potential  and when you have to spend lots of resources on the instruments of war and repression rather than on science.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Picking Up Plans in Palma

Well here again readers do I have the pleasure of reviewing a piece by fellow blogger Matthew Quinn. This one comes once again from his excellent alternate history universe (which I have mentioned before) and deals with some good old fashioned spy vs. spy action over who gets the plans to the big old battle station parked in orbit.

Since this potentially decides who wins World War III, the stakes really couldn't be higher! Taking place in a world where an uber-Calvinist Afrikaner Confederation (comprising much of Southern Africa, India, and the Middle East) has combined into an alliance of various vassal states vs the League of Democracies (United States, Germany, United Kingdom and colonies, among others). It's a Cold War threatening to go hot and we get some interesting looks at the world and culture behind it.

The story I present to you is: Picking Up Plans in Palma



The story of course takes place in Palma within the Confederation and our hapless young spy (who isn't even a field agent) is sent in to pick up the plans after an informant gets caught due to a high ranking traitor exposing multiple people. Therefore Connor Kelly, an unlikely field agent, gets sent into the fray.

It's a fun spy story with lots of interesting twists and turns but shows us an interesting side of the Afrikaner Confederation. Connor is dating a Confederate expat, one who's a flaming liberal by the Confederation's standards but insanely conservative by American standards which makes for an interesting contrast at home. Due to her origins she's also under intense scrutiny from the American intelligence services, something with make's poor Connor's life even more difficult as he falls under scrutiny for potentially being a liability.

There's also more interesting cultural separation as we learn that people flee the Confederation because of the new near theocratic Theonomic Party which has taken power in the Confederation. It's religious intolerance and Dominionist tendencies make it unpalatable to many Afrikaners and even twist the guts of many moderates (as Connor himself finds out). It's a great cultural comparison.

There's some wonderful spy craft in evidence with lots of interesting action I just can't spoil. Suffice to say its an action packed, but fast read.

I'd heartily recommend it to anyone looking for a good spy thriller on Kindle, and I'd recommend any of Mr. Quinn's other work as well. He's established a wonderful universe and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

300: Rise of an Empire

Well for my first movie review of the year I'd like to give you a review of 300: Rise of an Empire, the rather unexpected sequel to the cult classic 300. Was it worth the money it costs to go to the theater these days? Yes, and here's why!



Well I have to say I had been waiting for this unexpected sequel to 300 since I first heard about it and I've been trying to keep my expectations low just to make sure I didn't ruin for the movie for myself. It had an effective marketing campaign and it wasn't played as a re-tread of 300 but rather a wider use of the same style. This made it intriguing and set the stage for what would hopefully be an excellent action movie.

The good news is that it manages to do just that. The opening ten minutes are a bloody fantastic flashback which gives us a fictional version of the Battle of Marathon and it is an amazing show. I saw this in 3D and while normally I'm not one to like it I have to say the style here worked out very well. The intense violence and extreme use of blood was amplified by the 3D aspect and made for a fairly enjoyable visual spectacle.

If you liked the action in 300 you won't be disappointed by the action here. Its that signature fast paced bloody slow motion style that made the first movie so enjoyable. We get it in spades here and even get to see it applied to triremes ramming each other in the Aegean Sea! Let me say it makes for some spectacular viewing!

This but with far more rock and blood.


Though I can't say the film is historically accurate (and is better for it really) it shows some impressive skill at taking what naval combat way back in the day was like and adapting it to the big screen. You really feel the hits as rams strike home, feel a savage joy as you watch boarding actions and counter boarding actions and see the main characters match wits and put their strategies to the test, many times in fairly ingenious ways.

The characters themselves are fun to watch. We get a repeat performance from a few former 300 stars such as Lena Hedy as Queen Gorgo, David Wenham as Dilios, Rodrigo Santoro as Xerxes, and Andrew Pleavin as Daxos. Its actually nice to see them reprise their roles as it gives continuity to the story and a nice bit of depth seeing it all as part of a greater drama. There's also very little sense that the film directors are just shoving these characters in our face and telling us to like them, here it's just them being treated as part of a larger story which is nice.

Then of course we have our two main characters who really run the show. Though as a caveat yes Xerxes is a bigger character here, but he's really more of a vessel in through which part of the plot is conveyed. His journey to becoming god-king is actually fairly unspectacular and delivered entirely in narrative flashback, it's a breathtaking sequence and one which is well crafted but it doesn't change the fact that the two main characters are Themistocles, portrayed by Sullivan Stapleton, and Eva Green as Artemisia.

These two characters just steal the show honestly, and the banter and match of wits between them is what drives the plot. Stapleton as Themistocles just nails his character, a man different from Leonidas in every way, he's an ideologue fighting for a united Greece and a commander who has to take a much more flexible approach to his tactics than Leonidas did. It's his skill for battle and the desire to see the men under his command survive that makes him human and far more able for the audience to relate to. There's also a bit of a sub plot where his actions at Marathon haunt him for how they affect the future, but his speech about the weight of command and how his orders produce widows and orphans is one that stuck with me after the film. He also manages to carry the bad ass warrior leader role very well coming off as a flawed but brilliant hero.



Then we have Eva Gree as Artemisia, and holy crap have we got a villain! She gives new meaning to the term femme fatale, and she carries her role beautifully! Honestly I have to agree with Movie Bob where he says she probably sets the standard for how roles like this are portrayed. She's a swashbuckling unhinged killer with a brutal goal of vengeance on her mind and her back story makes this totally understandably and even gives her otherwise villainous character a mildly sympathetic outlook. Until she starts dismembering people and throwing her officers overboard in weights for failing her of course. Her scenes are all memorable and she comes off as powerful, charismatic, and totally unpredictable. She's honestly a joy to watch in this role and I have to say one of the best female villains in ages.



Story wise the movie is much more grand than 300 with a sweeping plot which encompasses the fate of all Greece and no less than three battles. Really its just a fictionalized retelling of the battles of Artemisium and Salamis, but it does them wonderfully. You get this sense of drama and feel the raised stakes as the two characters pit their will against one another on screen. Yes there's a bit of a sub plot with the continuation of the story of Leonidas and Gorgo after his brave last stand, but that's merely a backdrop against the larger battle for Greece. The secondary characters are all still fun to watch and they still have some deep moments and little scenes that touch you as you see them. It's a great story that compliments the action of the film.

The score is wonderful and is really a re-tread of the score from 300 but that's what makes it good and just pumps you up for the action to come while establishing proper mood.

If the movie has any weak points its that it really does undercut Xerxes character to an absurd degree, making him a mere plaything of Artemisia, almost wrapped completely around her finger. That does make his presence more of a weight on the film, but it establishes an interesting mission for Artemisia versus Xerxes will. There's also just enough action to fill in the points around the drama and story but I did leave the theater feeling that there could have been more action in there.

All in all though the film is really satisfying and I couldn't have enjoyed it more. I'd heartily recommend it to anyone who wants to see a damn good action film.

Friday, 7 February 2014

A February Post

Hello again everyone! Yes it's been almost two months since I posted on here, but I have been a little busy in the last little while and I don't think anyone will hate me too much!

Either way here's a little update on all the things I'm doing and all the stuff going on in the world.

Firstly I suppose I ought to mention obligatorily that there is that whole 2014 Winter Olympics being held in Sochi starting soon, and Vladimir Putin will be merrily trolling the world. There's been lots of horrible controversy surrounding the games due of course to Russia's recent anti-gay laws (which let's be honest, this is pretty tame as far as Russian discrimination goes) and of course all the other horrible things which have been done thanks to the Sochi Olympics.

Not as nice as it looks


That doesn't even get us started on the terrorist attacks leading up to the games!

Though more to the point I won't be watching the games outside of what little I'm likely to pick up on the news since I have much more going on closer to home to be worried about.

In sadder news we of course must mourn the passing of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, he died apparently of a drug overdose a few days ago. This is a sad day since the man was so young and had years of acting ahead of him. He was a truly talented actor after all. It was shocking to me since I had literally seen him onscreen not three days before while he was acting in the Hunger Games: Catching Fire. So it was a very real shock to me, and I'm sure it was an awful revelation to the cast and crew of that entire project.

He was a good actor and by all accounts a good man who will be missed.

1967-2014


In other cinema related news I was excited to learn that a movie adaptation I have been longing to see for so long has finally begun to see production! That would be an excellent adaptation of Stephen King's novel Cell!

This is a wonderful book and one which I have always thought deserved an adaptation to the silver screen! Though there have been rumors around the web about the project all the way back in 2006 it had some trouble getting off the ground and Stephen King only finished the screenplay in 2011. However, now we have some great news on the cast with a line up of such stars like John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson (who previously collaborated to bring us the great film 1408) and the news that Hunger Games and Orphan star Isabelle Fuhrman is going to be joining the project!

With a cast like that I have high expectations for this film as it was an excellent novel and one which does a fresh take on the post-apocalyptic zombie genre! (Incidentally I'll never forgive M. Night. Shayamalan for getting me excited with his trailers for The Happening making me think it was trailer for Cell. Then again there's lots of things we can't forgive him for.)


Well as a final aside for my news I've begun my own little project on a second blog. Yes I know I can't really even keep up with one right now but hear me out here.

My other blog Seven Kingdoms Seven Hells, is designed to be a long term project with posts coming once a week (roughly) wherein I examine one chapter from the Song of Ice and Fire series wherein I analyze it for political, cultural, military, historical, and character contexts. Just so I can even briefly cover all the bases.

I'm a few chapters in already and so far haven't missed a beat on updating it. I may miss some of course since life gets in the way but I will do my best to keep updating it!



Don't worry I'll still be working on projects here too, and I'll be doing some reviews coming up as well as a few rants I can think of!

I'm not dead yet readers! Ta ta for now!