Movies, Music, Short Stories

The Cover and Much Better Intro for My New Short Story on Wattpad

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Click here for the full story!

My first short story in 6 years comes in the form of Iris, inspired by the song from Goo Goo Dolls. An unnamed guardian angel watches atop an unseen tower in Los Angeles, peeking into and influencing the lives of its inhabitants through telescopes and a small toy globe. He comes to a realization that LA is a lost cause and pins his legacy on a dying 13-year old named Jiro, knowing that doing so will condemn him into spending the rest of his days as a mere mortal.

Some samples:

“You see, as I peek through each telescope I see, feel and hear what everyone is too, each and every one. Jiro somehow talks to God as though He’s in front of him, and when he tells you, “I’ll always be here” to the one who should be doing it, I don’t know what the hell you’re doing with the time on your hands when you’re all-powerful. I sit back on my reclining seat and fiddle with the tiny globe on my hands. I get furious at all the wrong times. I try to calm myself down. I can’t be angry if I’m the one dangling the carrots in front of every single person in LA. Especially when the most important one dies in a year.”

“A few days have passed. I hold the tiny globe on my hands before peeking at the telescope. It’s English class, but Mr. Caulfield is his usual free-spirited self and goes for another group activity to make plays. Jiro feels his stomach hurt even more as he drinks some water. His mouth is dry and body numb. He stands up along with his group in front. Iris was with them. I spin my globe a bit. Iris is looking down, but she knows Jiro just took a peek at her eyes. They were beautiful, and innocent, maybe even more than his. And they both had white skin like fairies but hers was immaculate. I spin the globe faster, and as they finish, Iris rushes to her seat, but her breath was cut short just the same as Jiro when she passed. I smirk. “…You felt that.”

Movies, Music, Short Stories

“Iris” a Short Story Inspired by the Goo Goo Dolls Song is Out on Wattpad!

My first short story in 6 years comes in the form of Iris, inspired by the song from Goo Goo Dolls. An unnamed guardian angel watches atop an unseen tower in Los Angeles, peeking into and influencing the lives of its inhabitants through telescopes and a small toy globe. He comes to a realization that LA is a lost cause and pins his legacy on a young teenager named Jiro, knowing that doing so will condemn him into spending the rest of his days as a mere mortal.

Gaming, Movies

Warcraft Movie Review

“Step in” the Guardian of Azeroth said. Somehow I felt like he was talking to the audience. Warcraft transports us to the most beautiful fantasy world I’ve seen in films in years. It may lack the complexity of Middle-Earth, but the focused introduction of this world made it sink in so smoothly. It’s like we entered the portal where the orcs are threatening to pour in.

And then there’s the painfully boring human side of the fence where clichés pile up on top of each other wherever they’re present. It’s not like the orcs are devoid of them (family themes, cough), but things start to feel annoying when everyone’s poking into anything that has a hole in it or that looks like cosplay equipment.

The jokes whiz by like the heavily edited pace, one after the other until they feel annoying too. Warcraft is filled with flaws that are hard to forgive because they happen so often. Even the characters themselves are of cookie-cutter fare. Yet it doesn’t stop there. Characters change allegiances without much buildup, resulting in more scratching of heads than the number of redeeming qualities in the film.

When things go the way they should be though, be ready to stare in awe. Warcraft feels like the next Avatar when it comes to technology. The CGI is undoubtedly one of the best in history, and the action is visceral and hard-hitting. There is an intensity to every blow, every charge and every shout that compels the audience to survive every groan-inducing valley to witness in awe the next peak.

This should’ve been another terrible film still, even with the moments of wonder included. Thankfully the impact of every bad scene is lessened by the quick but overdone editing and light tone (prepare for the cringe, though). It doesn’t take itself seriously, not only in jokes but the look itself. This is a film based on a video game, you can hear the filmmakers scream on top of the castles, raising to the skies their fake props and b-movie level actors.

I honestly got blinded by the crew’s track record of blockbuster hits and critical darlings that I hoped this would be the X-Men moment of video game movies. The reality is we’ll have to wait a bit longer (Angry Birds arrived with muted impact) for Assassin’s Creed, fingers crossed.

This is miles away from the likes of the film I mentioned, early proof that comic book adaptations were viable. Keep your heads up, gamers, but do realize the scars of Warcraft will remain forever in our hearts. Shame on you, Charles Roven, Thomas Tull, Duncan Jones and company. You almost did it, you almost did.

Comics, Movies

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

By now there must be close to ten billion dollars of revenue for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. These films feel like watching action figures of your favorite comic book characters duke it out. Disney could’ve kept the same ball rolling, played the same tricks over and over again and people would turn up in droves just the same. But they chose to raise the bar once again.

Captain America: Civil War shares part of the qualities that made up the disappointing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. They raise issues that are relevant, they have dark moments and the action is unrelenting. But where BvS sputtered to the finish line, Marvel handles with the poise of a veteran. It’s like Ra’s al Ghul’s battle with Bruce Wayne on top of a frozen lake in Batman Begins. Rarely do politics and family issues go in the way of having fun. And while fun remains top priority here, Marvel manages to stimulate the mind just as things go boom.

Nor does the action extravaganza feel overbearing. Civil War manages to outdo many of its contemporaries by focusing on a streamlined story as much as the battles. There is no godlike being that unites the two sides in the end. In Civil War, the bad guy wins, and there is no happy ending. The MCU is forever changed and it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

Characters take center stage in a refreshing twist, turning newcomers Black Panther and Spider-Man into powerful scene-stealers that will likely be among the lead stars of the next phase of this universe. From Tony Stark to Hawkeye, every gear has a role in the machine, and the main two are still played by their actors as if they were made for them.

If the plan still is to keep stepping up their game then Feige has a lot to live up to starting in 2018 with Avengers: Infinity War, which has the same writers and directors, with him returning as the sole producer. Being the real-life Thanos ain’t no problem if the ball’s been rolling forever and creative risks are still being made. In Feige we trust.


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Movie Review

If only Zack Snyder films could make you forget all their flaws through their sheer ambition and visual effects whirlwinds…forever. Unfortunately, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’s magical moments such as its intense opening scene set against the backdrop of Superman and General Zod’s climactic showdown in Man of Steel and Bruce Wayne’s post-apocalyptic dream sequence only serve their purpose for as long as they can. The cracks at the very foundations of one of 2016’s most anticipated films start to show right from the start.

We’ve seen this story before of Bruce Wayne’s parents getting murdered and the poor child running and falling into his future batcave, yet the film treats it as if the audience still doesn’t know the reason for Batman’s angst after the numerous films of yesteryear. The entire extended opening credits sequence is dedicated to this cause, and for some reason the sight of him floating up along with the bats back into the light feels so off it serves as a warning to the coming bombardment of out of place acting by Jesse Eisenberg as Alexander Luthor, clearly forcing memories of the Joker upon the audience. It’s a pain seeing acting talent wasted even as Luthor’s machinations leading to the titular epic throwdown are revealed piece by piece like a detective story—not to say it’s engaging by any means.

But there is hope just like Superman is a symbol of it. For every wasted actor such as the sparely used Tao Okamoto, the movie is propped up by the presences of the two main protagonists in Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill, with particular praise given to the latter. Affleck does a good job of being Batman and the man behind it, but he is lacking a little refinement in his closeups. Gal Gadot is an exciting prospect as the scene-stealing Wonder Woman, and I’d like to see more of the wise and old Alfred just because he complements Bruce nicely and is his tech guy to boot.

The world is arguably one of the characters in BvS; celebrity reporters and even scientists fill channels with moral debates on Superman. Should he exist, and what implications does he have in our world? Who does he answer to and should he be held accountable for collateral damage (a la this May’s Captain America: Civil War)? A very interesting premise is never explored fully or resolved in a satisfying manner. It is, along with the promise of inheriting some of what made Christopher Nolan’s trilogy more than superhero films, devoured in a frenzy of action scenes.

And that action is what makes a Zack Snyder film tick. The visuals too, and the music make their way in the translation into a wider Cinematic Universe (poor Cyborg, he got the least interesting tease out of the three Justice League cameos). The pace is fast enough for audiences to forgive half the mistakes at a blazing fast clip because they’re constantly engaged with beautiful sights, sounds and those aforementioned magical moments sprinkled throughout. I worry though that in subsequent viewings the cracks will appear to widen.

I was a fan of Zack Snyder’s once, and Man of Steel restored some of that until the aforementioned subsequent viewings when I saw past the ambition and newness, and sadly I expect the same to happen this time around. We were all cautious in anticipating this epic showdown of two of the most iconic superheroes of all time, and we were right. With Snyder still at the helm for both parts of the Justice League film, the symbol of hope for the DC cinematic universe; its Superman, just found its kryptonite.


Allegiant Movie Review

How ironic it is that surviving the mediocre first two installments in The Divergent Series actually helped me in enjoying the new one. Knowing what to expect is a must for this type of movie. A checklist mentality in story, a cast of underdeveloped characters played by excruciatingly underused actors and awful special effects are just some of Allegiant’s flaws. But knowing what I am getting into as Tris’ opening monologue plays turned out to be a blessing. These films are better off viewed as stylish B-movie-like action romps a la Resident Evil rather than Hunger Games clones, and in that perspective it serves as passable entertainment. Not exactly the best compliment, but potentially redeeming nonetheless.

It’s when you adapt this mentality that you forgive the film’s many flaws. The sins of Divergent and Insurgent still haunt Allegiant, such as the aforementioned poor job in characterization and production issues. The world still feels fake, as if the makers bit off more than they can chew. Shailene Woodley and Theo James still can’t muster up even a tiny sliver of chemistry between both lead characters. Giving priority to casting good, charismatic actors despite only small amounts of screen time does contribute a fleeting positive note, but only fleeting. They’re all nice to look at, but they fade to the background just as quickly as the forgettable story. Composer Joseph Trapanese rises above his work in the previous film this time though, providing the biggest improvement.

The film’s studio must have been worried about diminishing returns going forward given the negative reception of Insurgent and its barely passing Divergent’s gross even with a 3D premium strapped in. They tried really hard to differentiate the new one, increasing the scale and trusting that the sights and sounds of the new locations will provide at least some amazement for viewers. But really, how can you outdo two straight installments that were given middling if not negative reviews without fixing their flaws? Too much emphasis has been given on the business side of thinking rather than the creative. If Ascendant arrives a year from now with an even bigger budget and scale without looking inward first, The Divergent Series will forever be remembered as a missed opportunity.

The concept of this world has long been ripe for a worthy adaptation, but that chance has whizzed past by in just a few years’ time. We can only hope those in charge will see through the smoke and finally change the direction this series has gone on. Tris and Four will never be held in high regard as Bella and Edward or all the other popular young adult adaptation couples without a clear path in which their relationship develops along with the proper breathing room. The same goes for the bigger web of characters. Get the basics done, and maybe The Divergent Series will go out with a bang.


Deadpool Movie Review

Deadpool is a rare case of a major studio taking a bold risk on a superhero property; rarely do you see such many self-deprecating jokes on a comic book movie, as no previous flop goes untouched, nor have we seen an R-rated Marvel adaptation with this big of a marketing push. 20th Century Fox has managed to faithfully translate the spirit of “Marvel Comics’ most unconventional superhero” into film form. Zany, fun and energetic, Deadpool delivers on every level it is expected to with aplomb.

The energy here just never stops, even with the pacing. Deadpool switches between all-action present day to the customary origin story part quite quickly, but even then the latter never quite achieves the dizzying heights of the consistent laughs and well-written fourth wall breaking of the former. Basically, if you’ve watched the trailer, then you’ve already known much of what makes the man behind the suit tick, and even if you didn’t, much of what is presented is predictable fare. Chief among these is the well-acted but cookie-cutter antagonists played by Ed Skrein and Gina Carano.

In fact, it’s not just parts of the cast and story that give a sense of déjà vu; the always-pivotal climax is also a tad predictable but thankfully still enjoyable. Deadpool also has a few slightly uneasy scenes involving children, but they too are saved by the tone and pure enegy. Does he have questionable morals? Yes, but it is over-the-top enough for the audience not to take it too seriously.

Short and sweet, but filled to the brim with exciting action and laughs, you could go much, much worse than a somewhat crazy, murderous antihero if it’s this much fun to watch. Yes, it has its flaws, but it’s so easy to overlook them as they whiz by so quickly, overshadowed by the engaging scenes in between.