Last night, I watched Passengers, the film starring Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence whose characters wake up far too early on a colonial spaceship that’s en route to a new planet. I think it’s a film that certainly has its flaws but is ultimately worth a viewing for any fan of character-driven science-fiction. It’s a film that, given a fair shake, deserves attention for some solid storytelling and acting. But critics panned it.
With such an interesting premise and two of Hollywood’s biggest stars, you might think it was a solid bet. So what happened?
It’s conjecture, and a film’s failure and success is contingent on innumerable factors, but I think Passengers is another film where the critics got it wrong. What’s more, the film sufficiently and specifically addresses the most substantial problems in the second half, which makes me wonder if the critics who panned it checked out after a major development in the first half in which a character does something utterly, morally repugnant, something that is a huge risk in the realm of storytelling, something good stories have to do to be memorable and effective.
I spoil the hell out of the film below, so if you haven’t seen it and plan to, you may want to wait to read this until you do. But before you go, the bottom line is Passengers is a wonderful film, and you should watch it. If you’re interested, don’t be like me and let the critics dissuade you.
If you read Chris Cornell’s obituary today, you’ll learn he was the frontman for Soundgarden and Audioslave; you’ll learn he had a unique voice.
He was so much more than that.
Obviously, he was a person with family and friends who cared about him, knew him intimately, and will never forget him. But he also was one of the last remaining legends of a rock and roll era that has already lost so much or seen its heroes falter and fade.
My wife bought us tickets to see him solo a couple years back at this music hall near our home that typically hosts classical and traditional musical acts. What struck me about him was not his performance. It was his attitude and presence. Alone on a stage in front of hundreds, in a place that was maybe out of his element, he didn’t just command the room, he owned the whole damn building, because we did.
Generally speaking, whenever someone says, “the book was better,” about a book-to-film adaptation, I feel the need to punch them in the throat. I could go on a long digression here about my feelings of film adaptations, the different camps of people wanting them to be faithful, and creative freedoms of artists as well as the nature of truth, but I’m not going to do that. Suffice to say, The Girl With All The Gifts film adaptation gets it both wrong and right in really fascinating ways. Continue reading
I loved Autumn Moon. In a genre where there just aren’t that many good stories, it shines as an example of the werewolf tale’s potential. Autumn Moon demonstrates how to tell a deeply human werewolf story in a fascinating, alluring world rich with mythos and intrigue.
I Am The Night does something else entirely.
Rooted in the Autumn Moon framework, I Am The Night continues the narrative of Drake Burroughs, but like Drake, the novel’s nature has evolved. This one puts Drake in the spotlight and focuses on his struggles in the aftermath of the first book.
Drake has changed, and the core of Slade Grayson’s storytelling has changed, too.
When I sold my first novel, I knew I would have to create a website. And when I started building that website, I knew a blog was going to be a part of it. It’s sort of obligatory these days. Most of my contemporaries have them, but one thing I decided I didn’t want to do was post writing advice.
I worried it would invite criticism. I worried that, once I started writing for writers instead of readers, my writing would enter a realm I just didn’t want it to be in.
But I’ve been writing and editing for a long time. It’s a big part of my life, and I feel like I should share it. I have this blog, so it makes sense to put it here.
So this is the first in a series of blog posts that will present a wide range of writing tips, from the practical to the theoretical, from the granular to the big picture. Continue reading
Ashton Kutcher once said the only reason he works out is in case the zombie apocalypse happens and he needs to save his loved ones. Far too many zombie story protagonists seem prepared for it. While the main character in The Reaper Virus does have some resources that give him an advantage for survival, he isn’t one of those people. In Walking Dead terms, he has more in common with Eugene than Rick or Darryl, but the truth is he’s just an ordinary guy who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, a classic setup.
The story begins with a preface from Nathan, the main character who shares the author’s name. In this preface, the story presents one of the coolest promises I’ve ever read:
“I ask that you judge me for who I am and what I fought for, not what I’ve done.” Continue reading
Time for some good news. My story, “The Story of Jessie and Me,” has been accepted for Crystal Lake Publishing‘s anthology Tales From the Lake, Vol. 4.
I’m thrilled! Crystal Lake is doing great things, and it’s a family I’ve wanted to be a part of for a while.
I’m passionate about this story and this anthology. Go check out the previous volumes if you haven’t, and check this one out later this year. They also have a fantastic library of horror novels to choose from.
The Walking Dead’s mid-season premiere just aired, and I’m seeing a lot of criticism of the show’s first half of season seven. I endured this criticism through November, but now I feel like it’s getting a bit tired. While I acknowledge the purpose of television is to entertain, I think these critics miss the point of what The Walking Dead is doing and, therefore, can’t appreciate it.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course. I think the show is still great, and if you’re interested in why I think that, please read on.
(This is fairly spoiler free, but if you’ve been under a rock and don’t have any idea what happens at the end of season six/beginning of season seven, you might want to turn away.)
Isn’t that redundant? Can one rise down? Whatever. Looks awesome. Carry on.
I don’t review movies here all that much, and the honest reason is it isn’t often that I see a relevant movie when it’s relevant. Movie theaters are too expensive, and by the time a movie gets to Netflix, it’s old news and has to contend with my desire to catch up on Supernatural.
But so many people close to me told me to go see Arrival that it got me out of my apartment on a Friday night with my wife for a romantic evening of food court dining and aliens. And it turned out to be special.
Arrival is a film that works on a simple premise: aliens arrive and park their space ships over 12 seemingly random locations on Earth, and then they just sit there. The tagline poses the question, “why are they here?”
Beyond that, Arrival is a film that works on extremely complex premises. It’s clear that this film was lovingly crafted and resided in the minds of brilliant story-tellers for such a time for them to get it all right. It is thoughtful and thought provoking. It feels authentic. It is, by many metrics, a perfect film, nailing the basics and knocking the most high-level concepts out of the park.
At long last, the novel that found a home on cold, metal e-retail warehouse racks in 2014 has moved onto the cozy, wooden shelves of your local book store. Yes, it’s exciting, gratifying, satisfying, terrifying, but the one thing that’s undeniable is my little book is all grown up.
So, let’s party.
Over the next week, I’m going to hold a giveaway contest on Facebook and Twitter. Like, share/retweet, and use the hashtag #CarryingCarrier for an opportunity to win signed print copies of the new edition, a $20 Amazon gift card, and an Amazon Kindle Fire. Continue reading