Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why Mad Max: Fury Road is a Good Movie, But Not Necessarily a Good Action Movie

(Image taken from:

Anybody who saw Mad Max: Fury Road will likely tell you it's one of the best action movies of the year. Hell, some might even say it's the best action movie of the decade (As said by one critic on Rotten Tomatoes, where the film has an astonishingly high score of 98%). But while I will agree that it is a good movie that is great in some parts and terrible in others, it's not that great of an "action" movie, and here's why: The good guys. None of them are badasses.

Now, I know this is a feminist picture and that Mad Max isn't really the protagonist in this movie. And that's cool. I'm actually fine with that and don't mind that Max is mostly a passive hero and relegated to being a sidekick. But that means that Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, was the protagonist, and frankly, she wasn't bad ass enough. Sure, there are fantastic scenes with her (Namely the one where she takes the sniper rifle away from Max and takes that killer shot), but neither of them really take center stage as a badass, making their plight feel not as intense and even hollow at times. In that way, the character dynamic feels somewhat weak, whereas a character like Ripley from Aliens seemed very strong as she took the lead. It was HER movie, which is what I wanted from Furiosa. It's almost like George Miller wanted to make her weak, which is understandable given the context. But we weren't given enough backstory to really push for her. With all the talk of Norse Mythology, I really wanted her character to be a valkyrie, a woman of war who takes no prisoners and cuts off ball sacks with relish. But she wasn't that. In that way, she wasn't a badass, making for a rather limp action movie. This might have been intentional, but I'm not seeing much written on that topic--the limpness of action.

In truth, the best characters in this movie were the villains, namely the main antagonist. I liken this film to The Dark Knight, in which the most fascinating characters are the ones we're meant to hate. In that way, The Dark Knight feels more like a crime caper rather than an action film. It's all in the protagonists.

Personally, I feel that Dredd is the best action movie of the decade and for the very reasons I mentioned earlier. In that film, we were given a tough as nails protagonist who takes no prisoners, and I think that's important for an action movie. What's an explosion without a cool person to walk away from it without turning around?

Perhaps, Mad Max: Fury Road represents the future of action pictures, ones where we're not supposed to be impressed by the heroes and are just supposed to ogle explosions and flame tornadoes. Films without heart. If that's the case, then count me out. Maybe I'm a dinosaur. That's just who I am.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Review: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar WaoThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow. There were moments of this book that spoke to me more than any other book I've ever read. All the stuff about a fat, ugly, nerd from New Jersey who had trouble getting girls really spoke to me, a fat, ugly nerd from New Jersey who had trouble getting girls. All that stuff was great, and I really wish the whole book was that. But it's not. Along the way, we get a heavy dose of Fuku, which is a curse that all Dominicans are said to have in this book because of the assassination of their dictator, Trujillo, or, El Jefe as he's more commonly known (That's how I knew him, anyway). Within this tale, we also learn a great deal about his sister, grandfather, and mother, and how all their lives are cursed because of the tyrannical dictator.

It's all really compelling stuff, but all throughout, I just wanted to get back to Oscar's story. In that way, the book feels a little uneven. It's not that the other chapters aren't great. It's just that they weren't what I wanted to read. But that's more a personal preference than anything else.

All in all, there's enough nerdy references to make any geek smile. So if you want a book that's even closer to the geek heart than Ready Player One, then this is your story. It's thoroughly enjoyable and even beautiful at parts. Pick it up.

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Short story in Mad Scientist Journal

(Image taken from Justine McGreevy)

I thought I already posted this, but apparently not. Here's a short story I had published by Mad Scientist Journal. It's called "Lasagna With Legs." Enjoy.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Review: What to Expect: The First Year

What to Expect the First Year (What to Expect)What to Expect the First Year by Heidi Murkoff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Even though my wife jokes and calls a lot of the content in this book "propaganda," it still taught me a great deal about babies, which is a good thing since I have a daughter coming in August (Yes, thank you. Thank you). This book is an in-depth guide to help the clueless get a clue. It talked about everything from breastfeeding (Which I read, even though there's nothing I can do about it), to why babies might cry, to soothing injuries. So for somebody like me, who has only held a baby three times in my entire life, it made me feel a little less worried (Just a little) about our eventual child. If you already have kids, then there's nothing you can probably learn from this book. But if you haven't had any and you want to know a thing or two about them, then I say give it a read. The information in here is invaluable. I'm glad I bought it.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

Don't Worry. Nobody's Going to Steal Your Idea

I often hear from other writers that they don't want anybody to steal their idea for their soon to be bestselling novel or movie. But all I have to say to that is this: Don't worry. Nobody's going to steal your idea, and here's why:

1. Nobody thinks your idea is as creative as you, the creator

Just when you think you've created Inception or The Hunger Games, you find out that Paprika or Battle Royale have already been created. The fact is, no matter how original you think your story is, somebody has already written a story that's pretty similar to what you've just written. So in truth, you may be creative, but so are a lot of other people out there and no man or woman is an island. I can guarantee that if you search hard enough, your story has already been told and told well. What matters is what YOU have to offer to that story. Your voice is all that truly matters, so focus on that.

2. Nobody has time to steal your idea and then write your story

Just think about how long it took you to write that story of yours that you've been dreaming about all your life. Hopefully, you took your time and went back to edit and revise where your story needed it, so it definitely took you a great deal of time to put everything together. Well, just think about how others work and then you'll see where I'm coming from. Crafting a story worth reading takes TIME, and most people aren't going to take the time to write a story that you came up with, even if your idea is dynamite. And this leads me to my next and final reason why nobody is going to steal your idea.

3. Other people already have projects they're working on that they feel just as passionately about as you feel for your project

If somebody writes stories, then they undoubtedly have a tale in their heart that they want to tell and don't have the passion to steal your story. Sure, they might take elements here or there if they hear something cool in your plot, but that's just the nature of the beast. We all pluck and steal from things that sound cool or have impacted us over the years. So don't flatter yourself. Others have their own stories to tell, too.

So the next time you worry about somebody stealing your idea, relax. Any idea you have has already been expressed and told. It's your voice that matters. So focus on that.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Pictures From My Recent Book Signing in Watchung Booksellers

Hey, everybody! I recently did a book signing in Watchung Booksellers in Montclair, and it was a big success. If you would like to purchase either The Darkness of the Womb or A Boy and His Corpse, you can do so here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Goodreads Review: Sula

SulaSula by Toni Morrison
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Now this is interesting. After reading a book, I always go on Wikipedia to read the plot summary just in case I missed anything. One thing that caught my attention is that this particular Wikipedia entry said that Sula can be considered the main antagonist of the book. Shoot. If this were an Ayn Rand novel, Sula would most certainly be the protagonist. And that's because she lives life how she wants to and doesn't regret her actions. In Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophy, Sula's "selfishness" could be seen as a virtue. But in any other novel, the acts she does are seen as evil. And since this is my first Toni Morrison novel, I can see that "evil" can actually be a good thing in a Morrison story. But it's still evil. There's no denying that. The author makes that quite clear.

What I like about this book is its poetic nature. It's almost like stream of consciousness writing as events seamlessly drift into others, and you're not quite sure how you got there, but it certainly fits. I love that about this book. But what I don't like is that the narrative thread feels a bit too loose. Never did I feel like I was reading an actual story with direction. Not until, that is, the last few pages when everything wraps itself up and connects to the beginning, which feels like a forced conclusion. Telling the story through the years didn't feel entirely necessary. Still, it kept my attention and it's rather short. I plan to read more from Ms. Morrison. I can see why she's won so many awards (Including the Nobel Prize). Her writing is solid.

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