Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Velcro: Polluted War - Now Available!

It's been a little under a year since we had our last Ninja Kat romp, and already we're back at it with Velcro: Polluted War, which is available now! The darkest chapter yet in Velcro's action packed tale comes at you in either paperback or e-book form, so pick up your copy and continue the fight today!

www.VelcroTheNinjaKat.com

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Breathe v Breathe

When I first got the trailer to this new Andrew Garfield flick, and I saw the title of the movie was Breathe, well you knew that I was going to see this and talk about it. Of course I was. After all, just a couple years back I released a short film by the same title, so of course I couldn't resist seeing this feature length remake to my own movie (though it is odd that nobody bothered to tell me about it before now). And to top it off, my film was a horror movie, and this new film was being released in October, the month of horror movies, so surely it was going to live up to the original short, right? So then, how does this new movie compare to the original made by yours truly?

Well for one thing, despite all of the budget at their disposal, not one single werewolf appears in this movie, which I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. Especially when we come to the ending credits and I see that this was directed by Andy Serkis. You're really telling me that he couldn't have put on some CGI makeup and played a damn werewolf in this thing?


Now imagine this face, but like, a wolf.

And it doesn't end there. In fact, there's very little relation between this movie and my own at all. In this movie, we follow a man played by Andrew Garfield who suddenly becomes paralyzed and has to learn how to live with this, and his wife played by Claire Foy, who does everything within her power to make life manageable for her husband. Now, notice I didn't include these characters' names. That's because this movie does so little to initially establish anything about these characters that it wasn't until well after halfway into the movie that I even learned the man's name. (Not sure I ever actually caught the woman's.)

You see, before becoming paralyzed, the movie wastes no time immediately dropping us on a scene where Andrew Garfield sees a pretty lady at some pompous rich people's gathering, and decides he wants to woo her. We then jump to him playing cricket, where they're incongruously positioned to where the ball would be hit directly at the gathering of people for some reason, and he hits the ball and breaks a dish directly behind this woman, drawing her attention.

Cut to the two driving together in a car, I assume on a date, and then cut immediately to another scene where she's on a swing talking with her brothers about the prospect of marrying him. Then we cut to the two on some outback vacation, where we learn that she's now pregnant, yet I've still yet to even learn anything about these two. Not their personalities, not their relationship, and not even their names.


Our heroes drive in a car, and we learn nothing.

If it seems like I'm just randomly hopping all over the place with those quick scene descriptions, then that only means that I'm doing an accurate job portraying what it was like sitting through the opening 15 minutes of this film. And during this entire hopping around sequence, I was just shaking my head, worried that I was in for a hard sit, and just thinking, this movie could really take note from its title and just calm down and actually allow these scenes to breathe a little.

You see, we get the opposite problem here as we do in the original short. In that film, we possibly spend a bit too much time with a couple of our characters early on, a pair of policemen who become quite engaged in conversation while hauling a masked perpetrator off to jail. And we perhaps learn a little too much about them in the process. Where as here, we really don't spend nearly enough time with our two leads, and thus learn nothing about them. So, what we get is essentially an over-correction, if you will.


Our heroes drive in a car and, we learn too much.

So really, one of two things seriously needed to happen with these opening scenes in this new movie. Either they needed to be cut, and we just open on the two already together on the day that he's about to fall ill and become paralyzed. Or they needed to be drastically expanded upon, and a solid extra half hour should have been added to the final runtime just to really give these scenes their proper breathing room. Because as is, we literally learn nothing about these characters, so nothing from these brief opening scenes carries over into the bulk of the movie.

Thankfully, after Garfield gets paralyzed, the movie finally calms down somewhat, and becomes a bit bearable. We finally get a sense of these characters and their situation, but the passage of time is still radically off. What feels like weeks passing in the film, we discover is actually years, as his child is newborn when he's first admitted into the hospital and hooked up to his breathing machine (which I bet they weren't forced to shoot their hospital scenes gorilla style like we were), and when he's finally brought home, his child is now closer to three, though it felt like maybe only a few months had passed at most.

Anyways, the movie goes on, and we see how Garfield becomes accustomed to his new life, and how his friends and family help him still find a way to actually live, as opposed to merely exist, inventing a chair that aids him with his breathing and such, and going on adventures around the world along the way. And this is all mostly fine, I will admit.

Fret not though, for the aspect of poorly developed characters is a recurring one throughout, as there's a revolving cast of side characters who just sorta slip in and out of the movie on a whim, and only a few who I was able to still even recognize come the film's end. Like, there's his one lonely friend, and their inventor friend, and the wife's two brothers. But then as he's coming to terms with his death, there's some large gentleman who comes to sit by him and express how they've known each other for all these years, and I was left asking myself, has this character even been in any of the rest of the movie? And he certainly wasn't alone in that regard, not by a long shot. Though, to be fair, this much is in keeping with the original as well, to a certain degree...


You only learn the girl on the far left's name in the credits.
As to the other two, even
I'm not entirely sure.

But anyways, as we near the end of the movie, Garfield is giving a speech to a group of people who are deciding whether or not to fund the production of chairs such as his, so as to make for a better quality of life for people like him. And as he's speaking, he says the line, "When I first became paralyzed, I wanted to die." And then, right on cue, the power in the theater went out, like someone in the back was playing some sort of really twisted joke. I mean, I didn't think this was too entirely funny, but two ladies in the back row were hysterical at this, so what do I know? We figured the movie was mostly over, but I'm glad I stuck around for it to start back up and resume, because there was still some darker areas for the movie to go to yet.

Now, up to this point, despite a handful of scenes of sheer panic on Garfield's part as it concerns his condition, you'd be hard pressed to call this film a horror movie. However, I gotta say that I was quite surprised to see that they still went with the bloody conclusion in the end all the same. Literally, he's even bleeding out from the neck and everything, just like one of my own characters does in the original short. And it gets pretty gruesome, too. So at least they got that part right.


Now imagine this face, but like, Andrew Garfield.

Otherwise though, there was very little in common between these two films. No murder mystery, no tangential police conversations, and worst of all, no werewolves. But at least we still got the bloody finale, not to mention the obnoxious constant breathing, though this movie's came as a result of a breathing machine, as opposed to someone just relentlessly breathing heavily into a mic for minutes on end. So, to say the least, while the film started out rough, I wouldn't necessarily call it a bad movie overall. It does pick up, and actually becomes quite an intriguing and heart warming story as it plays out. But as an adaptation, that heart warming feeling is a total miss, and not at all faithful to the source material (even if it may well be faithful to the actual true story this movie purports to be based off of).

But then, maybe I'm just too close to the source to really compare the two for sure. So just to be safe, while I don't highly recommend it or anything, it's not a terrible movie by any stretch of the imagination (the first 15 minutes or so aside, that is), so by all means see this new movie if you're curious enough. But first, definitely check out the original short, and see for yourself just how well the two stand up to one another:

Monday, October 16, 2017

A Look Inside Velcro: Polluted War

The next installment of The Ninja Kat series is coming soon, but in the meantime, here's a quick first glance inside the pages of Velcro: Polluted War. Just click on the image below to read the first two chapters right now!

www.VelcroTheNinjaKat.com

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Velcro: Polluted War - Coming Soon

Book Four of The Ninja Kat series.

War is imminent. And Velcro has begun her preparations to set out and gather her allies. First she'll travel to the hamsters hideout, then to the village of Redfield, before they collectively make their way across the border to the Country of Rath, where they intend to meet with the Elder Meow in order to request Rath's aid in the impending war with the Devil Corps.

Meanwhile, blinded by his jealousy and pride, Charlie is still in pursuit of Velcro. However, a revelation he discovers along the way will send him down an even darker path than he's already traveled, and present him with the greatest challenge of his entire life.

It has all been leading to this moment. In Velcro: Polluted War, a history of corruption has finally caught back up with our heroes. Unlikely alliances will be formed as it all comes to a head, when Velcro and Rath's Bone Army battle against the Devil Corps in a fight that will determine the fate of the Country of Widows, and quite possibly the whole world over.

Coming soon...

www.VelcroTheNinjaKat.com

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Hangin' With Web Show Interview

So in a rarity for me, I was actually captured speaking on camera. This past May at MegaCon, I was interviewed by Allyson Ingerham of the Hangin' With Web Show, where we discussed a little bit about my Ninja Kat series, as well as my other writing and filmmaking ventures. Check it out!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

GLOW

So generally when someone requests a review from me for something, it's after I've already seen it and have shared my general reaction of it, and they merely want me to expand my thoughts. In this instance, however, this was the first time someone requested me to review something I hadn't actually seen, and honestly wasn't even planning on watching, as I don't exactly feel it necessary to watch every single new show that releases onto Netflix. So after that initial request, I was a bit hesitant to jump in. But then I learned that this series actually consisted of half-hour long episodes for a change, as opposed to the usual hour long. And honestly, that was the biggest selling point for me.

I've mentioned in the past how I'm not a big TV guy. I just think that it's generally too long, too time-consuming, and too much to keep up with. And nowadays, with these mini-series popping up on Netflix that are closer to the 10-13 episode range, that does make them easier to digest. However, almost every time, I come out thinking that they were still unnecessarily too long, and that there was so much that could've easily been cut in order to make the shows even tighter. But honestly, I didn't get too much of that feeling from GLOW, and I think a lot of that does have to do with the tighter half-hour format, which we just rarely see anymore these days in anything that's not a sitcom. So that was a huge breath of fresh air for me, as it made this such an easy sit to get through, and not at all a chore, like so many shows these days usually wind up being.

So it's a nice, quick watch, but is it any good? Well, I have my reservations, but on the whole, yeah, I dug it. Standing for Gorgeous Women Of Wrestling, the series follows the production of building a small wrestling organization centered around a colorful cast of women, and it's a pretty fun and interesting watch. I would say that my biggest initial drawback was that our main character who we follow, played by Alison Brie, starts off as probably the most unlikable character in the whole show, but then it makes sense when she's eventually cast as the main heel of this federation, as she's such a natural in the spot. So while it might start off initially off-putting, it comes together in a nice way that really works, and by the end of it, I found myself starting to come back around to this character, if not entirely able to forgive them, very similar to her co-lead in the show, played by Betty Gilpin.

Another souring element that recurs mostly earlier in the show is that there's a lot of really unnecessary nudity that honestly adds nothing and actually takes away from the show, making it feel gratuitous even, and often happening at random, so it doesn't even feel like it naturally fits in with everything else. A minor point, sure, but again, the way it was handled just felt needlessly off-putting and distracting, so thankfully they did away with this as the show continued to progress.

But as for the good, the cast is great, and everyone really gets their time to shine and let their characters grow. For as large a cast as this is and how relatively brief the show is, you really do get a good grasp on all of these lively characters. My favorite though was probably the director, played by Marc Maron. He starts off as a totally unlikable douchebag, but has one of the more complex and intriguing arcs in the series, as he battles with all of the personal demons that are haunting him in his life, and the way he allows for these elements to dictate his demeanor towards others, as well as how they influence his art as a film director.

Obviously I was able to relate to a lot of this aspect, and seeing this whole low-budget production come together really hit home for me in a lot of regards. But especially later on, after he discovers that an idea of his has already been used, yeah, that's something that I've experienced myself and have even discussed as recently as my Power Rangers review from earlier in the year (though that is not the only time this has happened to me in the past year), and it's definitely one of those things that almost make you question why you're even doing this. So to see that element play out here was sort of surreal for me, for how recently relevant it is to my own experiences.

I also really liked just the way the whole thing grew from the ground up, watching these ladies discover their wrestling personas (and yeah, taking place in the 80s, a lot of this winds up being very generic stereotypes, but it works here) and learn how to actually wrestle, featuring some decent cameos from actual wrestlers who would come in and show them some moves. Yeah, it became a bit cheesy when you could tell they could only afford some of these guys for a limited time, so there were episodes where the main cast were essentially training themselves with no actual supervision, which, what the hell? But that was easy enough to sorta shrug off.

My favorite episode though was probably as our two leads were putting together their match that was to be the main event of the first show, when they met with Carlito and Brodus Clay to teach them a few tricks in the ring. It was just really cool seeing them start to slowly grow as actual wrestlers, and I actually found it pretty motivating witnessing their undying determination to improve.

So yeah, this winded up being pretty good overall. There are some minor missteps here and there, but nothing that's not easy enough to look past. Unlike a lot of these shows, I never got the sense watching this that they were padding it out for time, so it's very well paced and easy to digest. All in all, there's a lot of fun, and while I can't say for sure how accurate a lot of this is to real life (I'm guessing most of it's not), I thought this worked on the whole, and would definitely recommend it. I wouldn't even say you have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy it either, as, similar to some of the characters in the show, I actually think the show's good enough to where it may very well win you over and make a brand new fan out of you yet.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

My Transformers: The Last Knight Review (featuring Shia LaBeouf!)


Shia LaBeouf's actual reactions to watching Transformers: Dark of the Moon
mirror my own reactions to watching Transformers: The Last Knight.

Before I even begin, I just want to remind everyone that I'm not blindly hating on this movie because it's the hip thing to do these days. I actually genuinely liked and defended the previous film, Age of Extinction, a movie that I felt was unfairly hated on, as it both addressed and corrected upon just about every single gripe that people had made about the first three movies, and yet it was somehow lambasted as the worst in the series regardless, which still annoys me even now. Outside of Dark of the Moon though, I've otherwise liked all of these movies to date. But oh boy, this one's a different beast entirely. In fact, all those gripes I had alluded to just now? Yeah, by the end of this, you'll be left wishing the movie was as remarkably tame as those films apparently were in hindsight, now that this movie exists to show us just how bad things could actually get.

So I recently watched the latest Transformers movie, The Last Knight, and I really don't even wanna talk about it. But after watching the movie, I had a bit of a notable meltdown over it on twitter, and was as such requested to please review the movie. And I have this thing where if someone actually requests a review from me, I feel determined to provide one. So here I am, attempting to relive this movie that has left my thoughts a lot more of a scrambled mess than is normal from me.

You see, normally after watching a movie, I can recall moments of it quite vividly, and describe them in great detail when it comes time to review them. But here, I was so disinterested by what I was watching and really not at all invested that most of the movie is honestly a blur to me at this point. I mean, I know that they did the big action thing, and they beat the big bad, and all that stuff. But truth be told, I'd be lying if I said that I could tell you precisely how the big bad was beat, because honestly, I was barely even paying attention by that point and just waiting for the movie to finally end so that I could just go already. Because you see, this movie reached a point relatively early on where I just couldn't even believe what I was watching, so much so that I actually wanted to leave the theater. After all, it wasn't like I was going to miss anything. (Which I didn't.) But see, theaters these days have employed this thing known as the recliner seat, and every single person in the row I was sitting on (of which I was sitting dead center), had their recliner up. So I suppose I felt a bit too self-conscious to stand up and request that each and every single person on my row put their seat down so that I could get up and leave, and as such, I felt a bit trapped in my screening. Consider this yet another reason among the many I've already exasperated as to why I absolutely can not stand the insistency for modern theaters to shift towards this format of theater going.

So anyways, like I said, this movie was a mess, and my thoughts on it are similarly messy, so I'm just going to discuss things as they come to me. And to start off, let's talk about how Optimus Prime was supposed to be the villain, only he was really only the villain for about five minutes of the movie, if that, despite the fact that his heel turn was supposed to be the entire selling point of the movie. The thing is though, when his scene came on, I was so happy, because that meant that the movie was finally almost over, right? Except, it wasn't. Because as soon as he turns good again, the true villains swoop in and steal the maguffin, and it's up to our heroes to chase after them and engage in yet another 30-45 minutes of this god forsaken movie that just wouldn't ever end. Oh my god, I could literally feel my heart sink in that moment when that realization struck me.

But let's talk about the aspect ratio of this thing, which is something that I have yet to see anyone else bring up in any other reviews that I've read and watched, which really just dumbfounds me. But to give you an example of what I'm talking about, you know when you go to see a movie in IMAX, but the whole movie wasn't actually filmed in IMAX, so there are only certain scenes where the image stretches to a true IMAX size, and the rest of the time there's black bars on the top and bottom of the screen? And you know how, when the image stretches, it typically stays that way all throughout the scene, and only resumes to its normal aspect ratio after the scene has ended? Yeah, well here, the movie keeps jumping aspect ratios back and forth all throughout. But, it's not just from scene to scene. No, the movie will do this from cut to cut. That's right, that means that in the middle of an action sequence, we'll be on, say, a cut of someone throwing a punch, which might be wide. Then, when we cut to the next shot of that punch connecting, it'll be the normal aspect ratio, only to go wide again in the following cut. And this is a Michael Bay film, which means there's lots of quick cuts throughout. Meaning that there are black bars just hopping in and out of the frame all throughout the whole movie, and this is just maddening to watch. Hell, it wasn't even just action scenes, even scenes with people standing around talking were edited together in this manner. And afterwards, I wondered if this was just my screening, seeing as how I hadn't seen anyone else bring this up. But then some of the video reviews I watched showed footage from the movie in their reviews, and I could see this rapid fire ADD aspect ratio shenanigans in action in the footage provided! So it wasn't just my screening! The movie was actually filmed and cut together this way! How? How did this happen?

(Oh, and by the way, I didn't see this is IMAX. That's the regular version that's cut this way!)

And as to the writing, good lord. I have seen some stupid, immature idiocy in my day. Hell, that's one of the biggest complaints most people have about all the previous movies in this series, is that they feel like they're written for immature twelve year old, by immature twelve year olds. But my lord, take every single immature moment from all the past films, and just multiply the sheer stupidity by about a million, and you're still not close to how ridiculous this movie gets. Like, there's a whole aspect where the movie canonizes King Arthur and Merlin and all of those characters into this series, and they spend, I shit you not, at least a good half hour or longer just sitting down and explaining how this all ties together in a scene of exposition that just went on and on and on to a mind numbing degree. And the longer it went on, the dumber it all sounded, and the dumber I felt for sitting there watching this garbage. And the thing that made it even worse is that as the characters are explaining all of this dumb stupid shit, they'll just burst into random fits where they try to spout out some lingo that some writer in their thirties probably thought sounded like something some fly, hip teenager would say these days. Only, this dialogue is coming out of the mouths of the likes of Anthony Hopkins, and it's just, for lack of a more appropriate word, bizarre. Relentlessly so. But it's not just him, it's the whole entire cast who talks and acts this way. Just spouting out belligerent nonsense at random, and saying things so immature it would make even the worst line out of any of the prior movies blush. And all the while, I was left asking myself, what in the hell am I even watching?!

Speaking on King Arthur, I guess that technically makes this the second Arthur movie of the year, and by far the worse of the two. But what's even more bizarre than that revelation is the fact that there's actually a scene in this movie that feels like it's edited almost in homage to Guy Ritchie's distinct editing style that was on display in the other film. It's replete with hopping back and forth through time as the scene plays out, with overlying exposition and even text bursting onto the screen to introduce a whole slew of new characters. Thing is though, this is the only scene in the entire series that's edited this way, and it's all to introduce a bunch of character who are immediately killed off in the very next scene anyways, meaning that it exists solely to waste even more of our time than we already have, and nothing more. But it was just weird seeing a scene like that here, and I don't know if it was done on purpose as a nod to the Ritchie film or not, or if that's even possible, given how close the two were to each other's release. But it was a scene that just stood out as a huge question mark to me. See, this editing worked for me in the Guy Ritchie film, but it was also a consistent style that they went with throughout that whole movie. But what worked in that movie totally doesn't in this one, and it's just yet another instance of me asking, what the hell were they thinking?!

Now, I know that a lot of what I've described here may well sound like it can also apply to some of the other movies with just how ridiculous and stupid it can all get. But I'm not sure that words can properly do justice to the sheer depths that this movie devolves to. Like, I'm not even scraping the surface with just how much of an insufferable experience this was to sit through, and just how badly I didn't want to be there. You're just gonna have to trust me when I say that as bad as I may make this movie out to be here, it's actually far worse, and there's so much more that I can discuss that I just really have no desire to even get into here.

Honestly, I've never so badly wanted to walk out of a movie in my life. I reached a point where I just didn't care anymore. Like, at all. A moment where I could feel my life being wasted away on this garbage, where I was literally sitting there feeling like I was just too old for this shit anymore. And it wasn't just me. When the movie was finally wrapping up (we got our cue because Optimus Prime was doing the same voice over that he does at the end of all of these movies), the people in front of me instantly stood up, only to find themselves in the same precarious situation I had found myself in, as they suddenly realized they were trapped by the recliners all around them. But they were clearly ready to leave, and as I was storming out of the theater, I could overhear others walking out discussing how Michael Bay is the worst director out there. And that last part is kind of a shame, because I mean, Michael Bay has proven capable of making a good movie. Hell, he's even made a handful of great ones. But my lord, you'd never know that watching shit like this. This was just some of the most incompetent filmmaking I've ever seen out of anyone.

I would say the one saving grace would be how, after the movie ended, some idiot in our audience tried to applaud this thing, and I was so worried that I was about to have to witness another ovation for one of these films. I mean, after Dark of the Moon, our audience applauded, which to this day astounds me (though to be fair, as much shit as I talked about that movie, after enduring what I did with The Last Knight, I owe that one a huge apology). But thankfully, on this occasion, no one else joined in, so at least there was that.

As I was walking out, there was a scene during the credits which I guess was supposed to tease the next one. But I just could not give a shit less, I was too busy finally leaving the theater to care anymore. Hell, make another one, I don't care. But after this hot mess? Yeah, you bet your ass I'm tapping out on this series. At least so long as Michael Bay remains at the helm, I've officially seen as much as I desire to see out of this franchise. But usually after seeing a movie that's this bad, my reaction is to consider it to be one of, if not the worst movie of the year. After this movie had wrapped though, it was honestly the first time in my life where I had felt that I may very well have actually seen the worst movie I've ever sat through in my entire life. Like, I have seen my fair share of bad movies, but I didn't know they could get this bad, and I'm still in a state of disbelief as to what I had seen. If ever there existed a movie where watching it was apt to give the recipient a thousand yard stare, this is that movie.