Monday, December 19, 2016

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Thoughts and Spoileramas!

Spoiler Alert

Here thar be spoilers!

Don't look!

Turn away now!

Or go rogue and read on!

On December 15, 2016 at 10:40 pm, one of my sons and me checked out Rogue One!

We were pretty excited! Well, okay, I was. Dorian is a good sport!

Oh, what a day it had been. Toronto had been slammed with a blizzard. I was supposed to work at the college for evening exams and they were canceled. They should have kept the school open since the snow stopped pretty much when I was nearing the college and most people had already arrived anyway. It's a difficult call for sure. I'm glad I didn't have to make the decision. But it was another hour and a half home in icy blizzard rush hour hell. I kept pretending I was in a Tie or X-wing fighter so I wouldn't have to worry about black ice. Since I'd pre-bought the ticket, there was no escape. I got my nerves calmed for an hour or so and then it was time to go see the movie. I picked up Dorian and we drove the hair-raising ice rink bridge (used in many big budget pictures that film around town) to the theater that wasn't very far or we wouldn't have gone. It's just that hell-bridge over the Gardner. Yikes.

Spoilers a-coming!

If you've not seen the movie yet, don't read on. I'm not giving a blow-by-blow by any means, but I will reveal plot points that will spoil the movie for you.

I enjoyed the hell out of the movie, yes. I'm a bit loathe to really review it as I need to see it another time to catch more of the story and dialogue. When I see movies in 3D with AVX sound, I am lost in the spectacle and sensation. We were near the D-box chairs and sometimes, especially near the end, we enjoyed the vibrations of ships hurtling around and bombs dropping. When I'm enjoying an amusement park ride, I lose track of the details required to share in review until I see it again with more focus.

The visuals of this movie were stunning. They were all I hoped it would be. Of course, the odd scene had flaws, like the 3D or CGI didn't quite work, but holy shit, who cares?! I remember Star Wars when it was Star Wars, no 3D, and THX was invented for it. The experience was amazing, that crawl for the first time was overwhelming. Of course, you've heard that a zillion times from those of us who were teens when it came out.

Rogue One captured a lot of that awe, or at least, my own fifteen-year-old awe and I'm sure that's what a lot of the reshooting was about over the summer. I don't doubt they added tons more fighting stuff, amazing special effects, as it's a spectacle where every inch of frame is used and things happen quickly, most of the time.

Expectations Checklist
My head space when I entered the theater was that this was the story of how the plans for the Death Star made their way to Princess Leia, that Darth Vader was in some of it, there was a new robot, that it would be really fucking cool. I wondered if Jyn was related to Leia or what her role was besides the one leading the gang of whoever to get the plans. Would we get to see Leia as the Princess of Alderaan and a bit of what she did and how she put the message into R2D2 for ObiWan? So many questions. There were a couple of scenes from the trailers that I was really looking forward to seeing.

I didn't expect any familiar characters except for a couple of cameos. I had heard that John Williams did NOT write the score so wasn't expecting to hear the iconic music.

I was jarred when the familiar "A long..." line came on screen in the old-fashioned way. Of course, we're all trained for the blast of the iconic Star Wars theme to follow. But it doesn't come. It's like an irritating itch because it never comes. Those of us who have been fans since the seventies have associated those words with that sound for forty years!

I guess I'm saying, it was jarring to have the words and not the music. I wasn't expecting the words so wouldn't have missed them as I knew this was a different story. But they had the words and then a totally different score which I had been expecting but now was startled because of the "A long time..." title card. There was no crawl and that was fine.

The score was fine. There were moments that our familiar themes were heard but they were more of a tease and I'm not sure they worked. Williams was a master at putting specific themes in to tell the story and as foreshadowing etc. when you pay attention. I'll have to get more familiar with this score but like I said, it was fine.

Planet Hopping
In the first few minutes of the movies, there is planet hopping all over the place. I still don't know what was what, and like I said, I'll have to see it again to get it all straight.

However, it disturbed me. I didn't like all that hopping around. It felt like going through the shuffle of a video game menu deciding which level to play. It didn't engage me into a story.

I'm not sure what happened to Jyn. I mean, I get what we saw in the movie. Her life story was choppily revealed. I'm not sure we needed it. After all, we didn't need Rey's and we bonded with her fine. However, I'm not sure what I didn't get about Jyn. Felicity Jones was great. She looks great and acts well but her character was horribly flat. I know she's a depressed goth girl with a murdered mom and kidnapped dad but she was still very flat. Part of it was the script. I suspect that she had a much larger role before the reshoot. I suspect the story was altered in a few ways as the new special effects were inserted. I know for a fact that some of the scenes I had looked forward to in the long ago trailers were not in the movie because I was waiting for them.

Sadly, I couldn't connect to Jyn, so once again I was hanging in to see how they would handle Leis and if Jyn and Leia would meet and who would play Leia? I hoped it would be Billie Lourd, But it never happened.

We briefly see Leia at the very end. This wasn't the story I was looking for. It was weird, cool,  and jarring to see fresh-faced CARRIE FISHER for a couple of seconds.

Darth Vader
I wanted even more Darth but he kicked some great ass at the end! I was angry they gave him a "punch line" before he killed someone, a la Freddy Krueger. Darth is not a wise-cracking villain. He's evil and scary. He doesn't do jokes.

I really liked the new robot. Of course, he was just filling the comic relief C3P0 role. Our buddies, R2D2 and C3P0 were only in for a second. I thought they would have more as their roles are kind of different in a New Hope. I wanted to see more about getting the plans into R2 and Tatooine etc. But it wasn't the story I thought it would be.

The Trailers Lied
I saw some of the early trailers. I tried not to see the trailers but I think I saw them all. It was because of some shots and lines in the trailer that I was excited for the movie and expected it to be a bit different of a story than it was. I guess that was partly because of the reshoots and rewriting they did at the last minute. Too bad.

Star Wars Isn't For Kids
I was a teenager when I saw the first Star Wars. It was dark and scary and had moments of fun and funny. Darth Vader was terrifying. Obi Wan Kenobi dies early in the movie and it's very traumatic for the audience and Luke. Han shot Greedo, not first, he just plain out shot him.

I've bitched on this blog before about how I'm not sure how I feel about children celebrating Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. Mass murderers who will take you out with a saber. Darth tried to kill his own children repeatedly and amputated his son's hand. Kylo stuck a saber through his dad for no real reason except to prove he's a bad ass when he likely isn't.

So, with all those horrors in mind, Rogue One is right up there with dark, scary, depressing war reality.

I wouldn't take the kids to Rogue One. In my head, before I went, I wondered if the new characters would all die. And as you know, yes, yes they did. And it was very sad.

When the movie was over, I sat in the theater, stunned by the last fifteen minutes of insane action. And then I cried for the heroes who were never recognized, ever. Just like many real life war heroes.

Rogue One
Great movie! Don't take your sensitive children! The characters were forgettable. I liked the blind Force user, I thought that was a great part. Even though there were many interesting characters, somehow we never really bond with them or care too much. It's too bad. I'm not sure what happened with regard to that but that's how I felt when the credits rolled and that's what I see a lot of other reviewers saying as well!

I'll see it again at some point and write more thoughts.

What did YOU think? Share your thoughts in the comments section!

Luke and Kylo enjoyed Rogue One!

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Birds and the Bees, Mistress of the Dark, Borrowed Flesh, House of Pain

Over the past few months, I've moved all of my backlist over to Crossroads Press. I hope you'll download some of these ebooks and check out my very first works. Over the next couple of years, I'll be publishing more books!

Eternal Sunset is my first published novel.
It was originally published in paperback by Darktales Books in 2000.
This is the first time it's available in ebook (where I'll actually get the royalties). 

House of Pain was my first mass market paperback. It was published by Leisure in 2001. It was published in ebook and print by Necon eBooks. Now the ebook version is published by Crossroads Press.

The Birds and the Bees was first published by Leisure Books in 2003. It was released from Necon eBooks for a few years. Now it's with Crossroads  Press.

You can help me write my new books faster sponsoring me on Patreon!

This  is a platform where people can sponsor artists and also get first look at their art.

I have been writing a couple of novels and some short stories on Patreon. You can get first look at them behind the wall.

I'm working on:

SORAN: a space opera adventure novel that will be a trilogy. I'm up to eight chapters!

TAURUS: The next book in the Witch Upon a Star series.

SEX |DOLL A-GO-GO : working title for a new erotic horror story.

GHOST: working title for a new story.

I also have been blogging there about my acting adventures and have been sharing exclusive videos and photos.



You can join for as little as $1 a month. You can quit any time. I've had many people come and go through the platform with varying levels of sponsorship. I'd love for you to be next!  I find it really motivating knowing I have to answer to my patrons!

Check me out on Patreon TODAY!

Thank you!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Group Hex, Kylo Ren, and Fan Days

Group Hex is  HERE!

Andrew Robertson is the editor and brainchild behind Group Hex Vol. 1. He always forgets how scary those stories are!
Cover design by Denis Freitas.

Our brand new anthology hatched today! The Great Lakes Horror Podcast is the publisher for this collection of horror stories by members of the Horror Writers Association Ontario Chapter.

Here are some real live horror authors holding a book that contains their stories!

This book contains real artwork by real artists! Here is a real live horror artist!

Fan Days was fun!

This was a very amazing BB8 ballgown!

Christine Whitlock entices the readers!

Sometimes, ahem, most of the time, camera phones take sucky pictures. This is actually a tall and very well put together Kylo Ren. He was a real sweetie under the mask as well. I would have talked longer to him but my parking was expiring and I had to get all the Horror Writers Association booth crap to the car before it turned over another ten bucks. I didn't even show him my Kylo Ren watch or the little Kylo I keep in my purse.

There were no Kylo Rens coming through the dealer's room. There were a couple of people who I thought might be Kylo Ren but also could have been any number of black hooded characters with a saber. I know a lot of video game and comic book characters but certainly not all of them. There were a couple of lady Kylos but they never came by my actual booth. One was really cool and I should have taken her picture. She had black Rey hair, black Rey outfit, Kylo scar across face, and red saber. I liked that interpretation of characters. I also thought I saw, before the show began, the lady Kylo Ren who is in a picture on another post in this blog but she never came into the dealer's room. I began to realize that a lot of cosplayers weren't going into the dealer's room around two or three o'clock but it was a very long hike to go watch them all posing for photos and playing on the different floor levels, looking for my Kylo Ren and I needed to be near the booth! Surely there was a tall, adult Kylo Ren cosplayer who would like to play with me somewhere at this entire convention of cosplayers?!

I had given up hope of getting a Kylo Ren picture this time, and I have gotten some good ones ever since The Force Awakens came out only one year ago. But alas, there would be none today and it made me sad. Then I saw this young man on another floor when I was on the way out and back in my street clothes and just flat out asked him if he'd pose with me.

It was nice of this young man to pose with me. I wished there had been someone to take our picture properly and I would have done way more poses. However, random stranger that I nabbed to click didn't seem too enthusiastic so that was that though I'm very appreciative of his effort. I'm very grateful to  both random strangers for indulging my Kylo fetish. Anyway, this Kylo Ren in the picture is going to Rogue One on Thursday so have a good time, "Kylo" if you see this! I'm going to Rogue One on Thursday as well, but not at the same theatre. I'm sure he's relieved about that! ha!

I don't know if this Kylo Ren is the one who posed with me as this picture was taken a few hours earlier!
I guess once Rogue One comes out, there will be more Darth Vaders and even less Kylo Rens plus lots of new characters at next year's events. But in the meantime, I'm happy I got some Kylo pics!